Clasped like a fractured necklace
round their soaring throat of stone
fixed against quakes by offset blocks,
round corners, interlocking joints,
these walls are masks. Their rhomboid eyes
stare over royal squares, sun temples,
cliffs sliding to ribboned river,
empty as time.
Climb these ladders of rock
past honeycomb foundations, emerald
terraces, unroofed gables
lit by skies steely with snow.
Admire ashlars smooth as skin,
polished by sweat, brute force, the inward
screams of those who hauled them here:
they glisten like pearls in Urubamba
mist. Turn to towers
perfectly aligned to equinoctal rays,
dogs laid with their masters
as companions to the dead.
Recall bronze sacrificial knives
that migrated to Yale, then back again.
Then when you catch your breath perhaps
you’ll shake off tourist mode and ask
what in these ruins moves us so –
a pride at plinths pulled past coiled clouds;
subconscious glee at cold
proficiency that shouts
who ruled this place; romantic dreams
of common bonds; though all’s abandoned,
alien, decayed. The eyes remain.
Black condor shadows sail. Dusk paints facades
in hues of blood.
No love can linger
in this geometric space.
No answer but the churning
rapids’ rumble, far below.
The Raven's Perch, 14 Sept. 2021