as a Secular Concept
by David Capps
New Haven, Connecticut
When I overhear conversations of lungs burning
as I sit on the stone path outside the music school
in the settled, mid-October air, I think of Clement VI
and the plague, the twin walls of flames between
which he rested
and thought of the past. How we share the sun
in the sky, and the birds’ mute slant, and the absurdity
of rainbows made self-conscious, the glint of cynical
travelers, the reverent
self-flagellations. They bear the cross in twisted
irony, while cattle which carry the sigil starve.
If I have learned, totally and completely, to forget
about the horizon, it is not by following
into dusk the promise of the next life.
It is not by being scorched by pretend flames
on either side that I should forget. Simply one day comes,
then the next, each without waking
to any additional weight on my chest.