Elegy for the End of the World
In 1923, in Vyatka Prison, the SR Struzhinsky and his comrades (how many were there? who were they?
what were they protesting against?) barricaded themselves in a cell, poured kerosene over all the
mattresses and incinerated themselves.
~Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago
When the second hand stops, a sudden rainstorm
pauses, holds itself like snow on the television screen,
in each drop the burst of flame’s reflection
from another angle becomes a street on fire.
Kerosene is blessed with this: it tastes like whiskey
as it burns your throat, and the air stinks sweetly
that smokes from your mouth. But this no one will know
but you, and you are quickly becoming that air.
There are no relatives, no pictures, nothing
but a bright plume in the distance, centered
over the city and blowing closer. It is night.
It is day. The clouds will wear your face.