Belial

Weekly feature by: Frederick Pollack

I was the one who, as the others grieved
in the place already, prematurely,
called Hell, tried to see positives:
“Guys, look what we’ve got here!”
Iron, copper, aluminum, tungsten, salt,
uranium – I knew I was mocked
for always looking where my feet were going,
but the result was knowing ores and signs.
We even had gold reserves; we could start something.
There was also the embarrassing
fact that our hermaphroditic state
was breaking down. The scene was very male,
and with all due respect
to my comrades, the Chief, and, eventually,
Plato, they weren’t my type; we’d have to make arrangements
with the upcoming “daughters of men.”
Before the war I’d counseled patience:
let’s see how Man works out. But the others
were proud. I’m not proud;
I was simply tired of all that celestial fluff.
“What the hell did you expect?” I asked –
playing, so to speak, devil’s advocate –
as my friends complained. Since then
they’ve kept me off the line, on office duties.

You dream that someone comes from afar,
speaking a language you don’t understand,
with a gift specifically for you. Let’s say
it’s a map, gorgeously decorated,
priceless; it must lead to incomparable treasure.
But step back a moment.
How far is “afar”? Does it even
exist in the age of Google Earth?
If you type “illuminated map” and “arcane language”
into a search-engine you’ll find them
eventually. For mystery to exist,
there must be distance, even growing distance,
and lack of communication. That’s what I’m for.

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