Poetry Drawer: The Drowned City by Robert Beveridge

When the water began
to fill the coalfields
I, the last inhabitant
of this city
had tied myself
to the basement post
looking for—what?—
a revelation?


The water, coated
with coal dust,
swirled around my feet.
The rope tightened
around my neck.
The darkness
in my basement was pure.
I had to feel
the water
the coal dust

and I could feel
the great manuscripts of Florence

covered with coal
with potential combustion
even as the water
permeated pages so thick
to be almost cloth.

As we drown
we have the potential
to burn.

A revelation?

Water around my waist now
cold as coal
cold as the mine in winter

and still the rope grows tighter
around my neck.

Water mains broke
in a thousand earthquakes
around the world last year
and flooded the streets.
Now certain third world countries
find it suitable
to sacrifice whatever
first comes to hand
on the anniversary of the flood

chickens, cows, in one
case a firstborn.

Water sustains us
but at times is our adversary.

A revelation?

The rope soaked
and dusted.
I taste coal on my lips.
The last inhabitant
of this city,
I give myself
to whatever powers guide
these waters.

A revelation?

I wake up,

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