World's End

by Becca de la Rosa

If you had asked, I would have told you
Babylon, where haystacks rose
and fell like empires
and we threw our wishes to them,
bright as coins.
Children lived in haystacks
wild, illiterate children
mute to our language,
breathing streaks of hay with lungs
like clamped jaws. We passed one town
whose women carried rivers
inside their braided robes,
and offered us fish,
cool water, salt to lick from rocks, sweet reeds.
Another, men with faces sheer as cliffs
strung chains of charcoal round our necks
and when we slept, we dreamed of cities drowned in ash.
Did I say Babylon?
Our navigators cried out,
married their maps, gave birth to daughters
impossible to chart. You say
you know my father's name.
I myself saw creatures without genus
drink from the night sky to quench their thirst
and watch our caravans and cohorts as we passed,
At Delphi a man with features made of fire
told me his dream: a dream of death,
he said, my father's death, my own,
and one would kill the other.
You know my father's name? I have my own dream.
To hunt for him until the sea and mountain
of this country have worn to dust,
until we lose our speech, until daughters
of cartographers and maps
cut down our hearts like blades of wheat.

Becca de la Rosa lives in Dublin, Ireland, with a snake and a roommate, and is studying Classical Mythology at university. She has had her work published in Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld Magazine, The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, and Sybil's Garage No. 6, among other places. You can find her online at her website. Her favourite fruits are black cherries, crunchy apples, and avocados so ripe they melt off the stone.

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