For ours is the glory

For ours is the glory
Hester J. Rook


We remember the smoke-stacked pyres
the acrid crackle catching the backs of our throats as the stars poured down.
The spice cities became dust cities
orange streets turned to ash; walls, sun bathed and golden,
to rubble.

And we watched you
as we lay down our dead.

We think perhaps you have forgotten now
as we sing slow and splendid,
as we walk shameless and sure,
bird legs sinking soft in the sand.

We no longer recognise our cities.
The wind snaps our wings, taut and muscled, our hair anointed down our backs
thick oiled braids like hangman’s rope.

The ground is sweat-sticky, sweet as lozenges.
Splattered oranges lie wet and richly rotting in the sunset streets, and oh —
how you fear us.

Yes, we think you have forgotten now;
How once you came in armies, silvered with iron, into our golden cities;
How once you maimed us blind and bloody, mangled our children, speared us into the sand;
How once the smoke plumes rose as we burnt our dead.
But we do not forget.

Your kings fled first but your queens died screaming
blood bursting hot in our mouths, oozing between teeth, soft as iron,
and dripping, smooth as sound, through our hair, anointed like priestesses (for ours is the glory),
red-robed like demons (for yours is the terror).

We are scattered wildling things, and we burn, oh —
how we burn.

Hester J. Rook is an itinerant Australian with an unhealthy obsession with myth, dead languages and the circus. She spends a lot of time scrawling poetry and short stories, and upside down on a trapeze – not usually at the same time. She has previous and upcoming publications in Synaesthesia Magazine, Apex Magazine, Liminality and Pidgeonholes. You can find her on Twitter @kitemonster.