“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
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.
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.