Swan Song

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written 8/21/01, Golden City Campus One, India

On the last day of the world, the remnants
Of the true believers will suddenly, and a little
Sadly, realize that the temple was never devised
To be completed, that the great marble edifice
With its cupolas and minarets, its impressive arches
And spiraling ziggurats, will be home only
To a few feral dogs, its porticoes echoing
With the clatter of pigeon wings. Amidst
The construction debris, these ghosts will be
Ascending the concrete stairs, viewing
What is left of the last day, golden sheets
Of tropical squalls slanting rain across
Green lines of small, hysterical trees
That will never grow large enough to shade
The boulevards, and the sky, its vast dome
Shattered with the incomplete grandeur
Of trying to express too many things, will be
An enormous hovel of broken rainbows,
Of massive thunderheads, purple and orange
And white, of the sinking last day sun,
And of the final, never to be full, half-moon,
Silvered and set against the foil of an impossible cerulean.
On the last day, the revenants, not wholly sincere,
Will realize they were actors who had forgotten
Their lines, and each one, each devotee, will be
The one speaker of a tongue shared by no other.
They will gather, these ghosts, of the primeval, dying mind,
In a last stand of flesh against the onslaught
Of eternity, holding hands in a circle beneath
The darkening dome, and they will chant, forlornly,
Happily, words they do not understand.

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