A. Dante Dottin

Imagine 53

“Fifty-three. Dead. It could be

worse. How many is fifty-three?

The first eruption catches you

unaware. Proverbial pants down

around unsteadily achilles you trip

over your own feet. Restoring

your equator line only at the buzzer.

Glancing North from your Antarctic your irises strafe

a form on the ground. Indistinguishable mound. Frowning

you take double. Recoil. He was two steps before

you two steps ago. His two parts now lie

two steps apart. Heart in chest flutters, heart

on ground seems to pulse still. With will of iron tear

nature’s co-burners away. Away from number one.


In panorama others lay sprawled,

splayed, some still. Some still spasming. Too

distant. Discounted Rubble smoke screams. Prone person

progressing on personal path just two deeply-breathed

lungfuls ago. Partitioning of time. Frozen

in the stares of those still afoot. Each holding

identical inquiries in gaze. No answer

forthcoming. Too horrid. Please don’t answer. Question

overwhelming, stench…


Another flash. Time

begins anew. No sounds

register. Realization of dormancy

of Great Architect’s typan drum. Visual

monitoring and motioning continues across

startled expression. Cryogenic tableau still

held in place, members part. Win place

show lengths in between

frames. Silent film.


Heart beats inside you. She,

Heartbeats ago, beside you. Now

over there. And over there. All

around all over. Your soaking clothes,

agony and char-fill olfactory

orifices two. Exposing panic

raw, at the sight. The sight of number two.


Many others felled, falling to dismember,

to disintegrate each second, along with the second

long before the third is transcribed

in turbulent flows trapped by delicate imprint

banks, you abandon all reason aside

from escape. Fleeing to…

Anywhere but here. Thus, you never

Made it to number three.

Heaven-forbid, fifty-three.


Media reports flow over

and around us. Fifty-three.

One thousand four hundred sixty eight

wounded and dying-unconfirmed. All in

a passing thought. Far removed, desensitized, we express

opinions of sorrow. Briefly. Blowing horn at discourteous

driver. But you were there – unable to generalize

euphemize, minimize, politicize…

Or were you?


A single life from your own household would devastate…

Two deaths before your eyes would confetti sanity’s fabric…

What of three?

What of fifty-three?

Imagine. Weep. Act.