At our fringes lick flames. Sparks fly in all directions.
The land groans. It has known these wildfires before,
in Spain, Germany, France, now sweeping the East. Hatred,
its history of blood and death always smoldering somewhere
in piles of dried manure, classrooms or wailing
in books of prayer.
On hot days, combustible decades, a man scrapes a match
at a heap of tinder. He is young, barely out of childhood.
Flames rise, engulf his shadow. From the ground, timbers
of ancient buildings, gateways, wrenched-open padlocks,
mounds of rotting garbage, emerge armies of pincered ants.
Look! They are carrying torches, wearing black clothes, masks.
Voices raised, fists brandishing burning slogans, they march
through towns, villages, igniting everything. Children flee
in panic, some hide in cellars. Streets are littered with bodies.
Here and there an ant topples, decapitated.
At our fringes lick the flames. Black ant flames in the North,
red ant flames in the South. Over our networks of roots and sap
spreads the call. Mobilize! We don khaki, kiss wives and children,
sprint towards borders. The sky fills with din of smoke and
burning. Coming closer.
A man stands in the street. Bearded, clothes ragged, eyes wild as
the fires, he cries a warning. “Beware the Ides of March, flames
will engulf the world. Beware, beware”. We brush past him. It is
April, July, October. On the way we pass the House of Assembly.
Our leaders are gathered, they are making long speeches. Pros and
cons, drinking bottled water, nibbling peanuts.
We leave them to their babbling. Rush on towards the fringes. We
are all fire fighters now. How long before our hoses run dry?
Is it too late already?
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© Johnmichael Simon