My friend, we were walking alongside the man-made river 
where a city walked so slowly along its banks they seemed part 
of the current itself, and every few feet a fire burned, the cauldron 
fires that smelled of flesh, though I knew it to be only the heart-wood 
thrown by bare-chested men onto the flames. For a moment I forgot 
where I was, and heard, a chanting. A lowing from the waters. 

We followed the shore. There were kernels of corn, small explosions 
in great oiled kettles being turned then poured into bags and cones. 
We ate more than we needed as we talked about your future, despite 
the past seeming to fill the air with smoke. I said, In this place I could  
see civility just giving way. 

Along the man-made river, we walked, and the boats almost beside us 
full of those you said "meant to be seen," but I knew otherwise, as I 
pictured myself inside such a dark vessel, Odysseus, weightless 
upon that night’s close current, indivisible: skin, wood, water, fire. 
As people waved, you went on, beside me – a lamentation 
on Beauty and how there simply wasn’t enough of it….

Vievee Francis

Issue No. 11 • December 2013