by Craig Dobson
You can’t get a signal up here, though there’s nothing in the way but sky. We felled the pines for Christmas cheer; this year, don’t know how we’ll get by.
Our Master’s lingering illness
finally killed him in spring.
Left us in grief and distress,
orphans of his suffering.
The milking goat’s just skin and bone,
we ate the last of the hens.
Whip ourselves our sins to atone,
then drink like unholy men.
Grind acorns and roots for flour,
add grubs and lichen to the pot;
we’re thinning by the hour
since the last rat was shot.
Our prayers get ever more earnest
as desperation bites.
Once they rose to the heaven we blessed,
now they hang above us like kites.
At night in the freezing dorm
the heirs of flesh are weak.
Where spiritual desires should warm,
it’s other fires they seek.
Each quarter the Bishop berates us,
threatening our order’s demotion.
Even our catacombed brethren hate us
for our lack of pious devotion.
Brother Hugo went mad with a fever,
howled like a wolf at the moon.
Flung himself naked into the river,
went rabid and bare to his doom.
In the cold morning light, delirious,
I mutter my thanks to the Lord.
My soul, so worn it’s numinous,
prepares to add to his hoard.
When the last of us is gone,
and this mountain’s grown wild again,
will any of what we’ve done
be known to other men?
Will the stones of this place still tell, somehow, the pattern of our days? Will people still trace in this shell our strange and lonely ways?