Sharp silos of stalagma long as telephone poles. Orbs of reflected light that fade like breaking fevers. As if conceived in a smokescreen sub-terrain. Red rocks surround us like bloated cherry pythons. Hot pebbles crumble from the walls and fall to the bottomless black deserts and dissolve into dust and mold and space and sizzle. Everything sits covered, coated over. Each breath of air a tongue-touched serpentine inhalation from a barrel made of planet marrow.
Our joints creak with rusted cavity hiss. We make hats out of feathers and ribs of the things we’ve eaten and wear them for disguises in the dark and for the darkness. But birds and bats have disappeared and things no longer fly. And mud pumps from our wells like smokeless cold volcanoes. And droughts spread with a rodent-like burgeoning, bearing blind and furless youth in pavement nests and barbed-wire bundles, their rattles tangled in limestone and tar.
Our lungs fill with seed and soot and we call our caves our chimneys. We string reams of hair to their mouths from our own sore bald heads, making never-before-seen doors with pieces of ourselves. Thin rings of ice and dust surrounded the moons on our televisions. Then more moons. Then more. Homophonic voices whistle vague harmonic lapses of space and time as our orbit tilts into other unknown orbits, pulling our oceans through our atmosphere until everything is dry, flared, and chapped.
Curls and chips of ash fall like autumn into our mouths, making errant scorched mountains of whittled matter on our tongues and between our teeth. We learn to speak in shorter sentences and take smaller breaths. Our caverns begin to bake us with slow thermal incubations and we watch ourselves shrivel and sear with encrusted eyes and clogged nostrils, flicking our fingers at the invisible blaze of the bleached earth’s broiled bones.
At night, in the heat and the dark, we feel our copper scales peel up and expire along our bent spines as if we are being forged into something different. When we look down at all the heavy rock below us, we feel, somewhere behind the mineral and beneath the soil, the planetary yoke boiling up gnashing and molten between our kindled bodies, slowly constricting our skeletons with the rapid combustion of white-hot heat.