To you who inherit this land

by Lindsay Clark

I.


I could split the years between us and find
You closer to your first love than I to mine
       A sleepless Seoul monsoon
       This cigarettes, corner store soju
       Made us shimmer by a radioactive river
       Kiss through double vision and stumble
       Home to Cold War brick and barbed wire
       Rocked gently in the cradle of
       Fattened empire


       Once a sweet and timeless ache in this:
       Adolescent oblivion amidst
       An ever-crumbling landscape
       Passing through me to you
       On a day come too soon

Now slipped away to smoldered grief
That on this love-sapped earth
Heated without warmth
The luxury of tender mischief may have
Gone extinct
Died in the fires with
The rest


Each wheezing cinder itemized
I will to you

 


II.

 


You were not destined
And before your time
More curses than unnamed stars
Belted the planet who bore you
To thrust you forth screaming


I knew I had become a monster
When I would not undo one of them


I knew I had gone mad
When a tendril of your hair
Curled around the known universe

 


III.

 


We can speculate that the twilight generations
Of the Garamantes Empire likewise succumbed
To a glutton's desperation
The final drop of fossil water
Beastily slurped down a hollow
Gut
When no fleshy bounty
Nor expanse of celestial devotion
Could deliver their children from the
Morning star rising on thirst-cracked shores


Or perhaps the last of the mothers in Nazca country
Wailing in the shadow of the murdered huarango tree
When the water came


These specters that were never warnings
But omens

 


IV.

 


For you I would hold a mirror
To myself and all that raced away behind me
I would uncoil my vanities
For you to examine
I would present a ledger of every
Unearned indulgence


Once on a pitch-dark helipad in the outskirts
Of southern Baghdad
I held night vision goggles to an
Unpolluted cosmos over Nineveh
Glowing brilliant alien green
A sight so unreal and holy it seemed
A portal to another plane


From here I think you must have arrived
To this blighted timeline where sightless
Predators
Chase a doomed scent and
I

Among them

Lindsay Clark is a medical student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, where she lives with her partner and daughter. She previously served five years in the army and studied biology at the University of Maryland, College Park. This is her first published poem. 

Issue 32