Poem of the Week

Babylon

Virginia Konchan

I awoke to the sound of leveling,
to the vision of the miniature city
I had built tumbling to the ground
at the hands of marauders or a god.
Precision of material consideration;
lofty heights of cerebral imagining;
all returned to dust, dirt, clay, straw.
Is soul a metaphor for the energy that
transforms biological matter into an
animated body, or its living breath?
Devastating loss: the great equalizer.
Did it matter that the city could have
been a Victorian house or ant colony?
A self-declared king, I established it,
rendered each detail lovingly, which
is to say with a madman’s obsession.
I had no voice, control, nor authority
except over this dioramic model that
I believed to be a paragon of creation,
like the figures and historical timelines
I drew when young, to learn the lesson.
I could destroy you, but won’t, a cruel
man once said to me, by way of love.
Pride goes before a fall: ask Lucifer,
the morning star. I could hate you,
but don’t, standing in an empty field
once filled with scented conifer trees.
Another enters the site of my hubris.
Pine, juniper, cedar, blue spruce—
come, stranger, remember with me.

Virginia Konchan is the author of four poetry collections, Bel Canto (Carnegie Mellon, 2022), Hallelujah Time (Véhicule Press, 2021), and Any God Will Do and The End of Spectacle (Carnegie Mellon, 2020, 2018) as well as a short story collection, Anatomical Gift.
Originally published:
October 12, 2022

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