Lee Sharkey

World without end

There came the time we were moved to move into the rubble
For myself, it was the only anodyne for madness. But each had their reasons—worms in the fruit, a fine-
grained poison that sifted from the ceiling, a child’s accusation, snakes in the walls that hissed, Your nest
is next

We packed nothing but a bottle of water and a rag to wipe the sweat, then crossed our thresholds,
leaving the doors wide open, leaving the books to mice and the wind
Sunlight dazzled in the rising dust. The rubble made a new horizon, an angular assemblage across our
line of sight
Concentrating, we picked our way over the concrete, steel, and glass that had been our expression
When we came upon living beings, they neither welcomed nor dismissed us. We ferried water and we
ferried stone. What rose from their dark throats we will not mention
When the rockets and planes stopped flying, fighters and pilots took their places among us. Each sat
alone looking out on his handiwork. The world grew perfectly still
We know nothing of the future; the present is true to itself. If someone groans, we do our best to give
them comfort. There is no hope to offer and we offer none

Lee Sharkey
“World without end” is from A Darker, Sweeter String (Off the Grid Press, 2008).