The streets of the City were nearly empty. I’d walked up and down Luxuria and Superbia, but had seen only a few individuals. Here and there, someone stood alone on a corner or in the shadow of an alley. It had all happened so suddenly. The Tyrant had come and most of the Institute had fled. Tonks, Pens… Redd and Attie… all gone. Choi had taken Nareth… or rather Dana… out of the City, along with Constantine, to a land reputed to be even more violent than the City itself. I sighed, filled with sadness and remorse; I felt I should have been able to do something to avert it all, but there was nothing I could do. Even the Lady had failed. I stood gazing one last time into the flames of the Library hearth, then headed quietly to my room at the top of the stairs. As I slowly opened the door, I gazed at what had been my home for well over a year: the small narrow bed, the wooden writing table, the hi-backed chair… all worn and meager furnishings, but well loved. I neared the bed, took off my armband and lay it flat on the coverlet, tracing my finger along the Omegan insignia for a moment and thinking of the many remaining I yet held dear. Still… I had to follow her. There really was no choice for me. I turned, left the room, and closed the door behind me.
I have a pack of letters,
I have a pack of memories.
I could cut out the eyes of both.
I could wear them like a patchwork apron.
I could stick them in the washer, the drier,
and maybe some of the pain would float off like dirt?
Perhaps down the disposal I could grind up the loss.
Besides -- what a bargain -- no expensive phone calls.
No lengthy trips on planes in the fog.
No manicky laughter or blessing from an odd-lot priest.
That priest is probably still floating on a fog pillow.
Blessing us. Blessing us.
Am I to bless the lost you,
sitting here with my clumsy soul?
Propaganda time is over.
I sit here on the spike of truth.
No one to hate except the slim fish of memory
that slides in and out of my brain.
No one to hate except the acute feel of my nightgown
brushing my body like a light that has gone out.
It recalls the kiss we invented, tongues like poems,
meeting, returning, inviting, causing a fever of need.
Laughter, maps, cassettes, touch singing its path -
all to be broken and laid away in a tight strongbox.
The monotonous dead clog me up and there is only
black done in black that oozes from the strongbox.
I must disembowel it and then set the heart, the legs,
of two who were one upon a large woodpile
and ignite, as I was once ignited, and let it whirl
into flame, reaching the sky
making it dangerous with its red.