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Poetry: History

 

The Autumn of the Middle Ages

No one can see the road.
What we know of it --
that it is broad and flat --
is gathered by deduction, or --
that it is hard, unpaved -- 
by the experience of feet.
Other things are known
without knowing:  no one speaks,
or stays the measure of his tread,
for fear of faltering and
falling beneath
the measureless determination
of those behind:  each
searches the ranks before for
the symptomatic shiver,
the fatal disruption which might
entangle and engulf those
who follow, follow, follow....

All who must, adjust unthinkingly
the mechanics of knees and elbows
to allow for occassional changes
in elevation and texture, signalling
the treacherous presence of
whatever remains, counting on time
to erode the clinging bits of
viscera and flesh from
unexamined feet.

Sometimes, a voice proclaims,
from some distance, a known destination.
Sometimes, there is screaming,
breathless and keen, or sobbing,
like a prayer.           Neither lasts.
Sooner or later, for want of concentration,
the voice is dragged down, or trips,
and subsides, squelching, into
the rhythm of the unseen road,
and the monotonous perpetuation of 
feet in procession.
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