Mercury’s Emperor

by James Himberger

Before him a desert
Crowned in glass
Scratching its life
From the dim beams
Of the Pleiades.
Of what little comes
Much is made of it.

The precipice beckons.
New modes and disorders
He contemplates.
A stone’s throw
Will break the feet of clay
And fell the colossus
Constructed against itself.

Behind the portico
Statesmen sigh, perplexed.
Sprawled on the arms of clocks.
When all veils are lifted
There is little that can be done.

Amid the shattering glass,
He smiles at the forms and shapes
That dance upon the hurtling shards,
Like a sunset fragmented
Across the horizon.

For a moment,
Arches, spires, columns
Arrange themselves
At speeds unholy
By arts unknown.
Kingdoms of the elsewhere,
Unimagined republics,
Crackling with strife,
Living and dying all at once.

But within this swirling basin,
No great chain reanimates
Of bodies corporate,
Glinting with incarnate crowns.
Their pastures do not throng into Heaven.
Nor do their phantasms stream into stone.
No, the vaults of those solemn architects
Do not mingle with the stars.

And yet, a far off country can be seen
In hazy outlines of possibility.
Memories of a future lost,
Their fragments recovered only
In cracks and hisses
Between transmissions:
“I will come. But not yet.”

Instead, powers undreamt of fill the air.
Managers of the sovereign void,
Mark divisions over the globe
Dripping circuits of gleaming slime.
Pulsating, but not breathing,
They restrain vast winds and waters,
With grim institutes,
Bringing forth a new desert
Its vitreous diadem restored.

All that was before,
And all that comes after
Are useless to him.
His life is spent
In those moments of collapse.
Each one a private Valhalla
Every shard enshrined.
And the hoary gods lead him
Up avenues, through gardens,
In the dying light,
To take his place
Among the statuary
In the final alcove.