Ancient Knowledge

Were you in the midnight basement when she found the book
           and pronounced in secret the dark, wild words?
Did you stagger as the song ran dry at dawn and ended?
The immense tendrils slither out into an infinite minute;
           a burst of growth through the walls like an exploding bomb,
           windows turning into lace, showering the street with glass slices.
A grotesque hatchling emerges from the building’s shell and looks about.

After all the people have run away down the avenue,
           the last sister brushes dirt from the pages.
What was summoned by her slender tongue trembles in the burning morning,
           blue liquid throbbing beneath the bruised skin;
           the sound of its pulsing veins echoes vanished traffic,
           like the memory of a consumed meal.
Expanding buds swell into full bouquets for summer’s love-child;
           the smell of blossoms can teach the wind
           what was once here and has come again.

If ever a man, hooded in evening, were to read that work backward,
           would the leaves turn red and wither away
           as the shards flew upward, the bricks arcing back toward unity,
           settling themselves over the ponderously rising slabs and girders,
           closure running up the cracks, dust precipitating out of empty air?
The furtive crowding back to murmur about the forbidden apparition;
           once again the First National Bank gathers its worshipers.

©1998 F.J. Bergmann

"Ancient Knowledge" appeared in Dreams and Nightmares #66

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