Outliving

© Joanna Parypinski

i. Temple of Zeus, Athens

Stark stone against a breathless
sky—your columns
rusted by sun
and a thousand years of neglect.

You might have been grand
—once—
Corinthian carvings
flowering in old stone,

but now you are in pieces:

two isolated limbs,
one broken in the grass,

braced against
the loneliness of immortality.

You linger, a skeletal god,
king of Necropolis—

splendid in your destruction
like a blind lion
limping through the underbrush.

ii. Six Flags, New Orleans

Years have passed
since you rode my back to the sun
and waited
in winding lines to scrape
the sky—

Don’t you abandon me, too,
in these silent
swampy days, where

skeletons of roller coasters slide
in and out of floodwater
like serpents,
curling in great steel waves

through the fog. The tracks
are rusted steel columns; the trains sit,
disused—awaiting phantom riders.

Swings hanging on their strings,
still. Ferris wheel’s silhouette
reflected in orange water.

Remember me as I was,
not as I am—

cold, rotting, left to the vines.

iii. Imagined Mountain

Up close, the waterfall
is a free-flowing string of piano keys.

The mountain spitting music
crawls with flowering columns

of trees, and
the lake froths white like
cherry blossoms.

That’s where I go when I close my eyes—

a temple of dreams,

still empty and nonexistent
the way Mount Everest must have been
before someone gave it a name:

people make places.

I wonder what will happen when my sleep
turns to dust, and the mountain rusts,
abandoned,

and there’s no one
to hear the music of the waterfall.

Maybe it will be lucky enough to die
with me.

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