Birthmark

BY PRABHAKAR VASAN

It is, again, unsafe.
At least, it is unclear.

animals, their dark forms when they crouch at the margins of the freeway

The city is charred, as
from a blast. Or the eyes are.
The mind is crumbling into
its own foundations. Or
the homes are. Waiting, even,
is a taut state, the drone
of current through a wire.

silent, tense, they search for a space in which to cross

And negotiations unravel.
Language, a dried gauze, fails
to keep this clean.
Exposes to the air the burnt
stump still raw. Flesh painful
just to look at. The burn wound.
Which refuses to scab over.
Endures like a birthmark.

how we must blur and roar past them

Any impulse must originate in
and move outwards from
this margin of ruin. Quickly.
With little or no allowance

made for the margin of error.
A feint, say, or a blind lunge.

they know we will annihilate them if their calculations contain the slightest imprecision

At this time, in this state,
to stand off and witness
may be better

they know we will not slow down, will not stop until we are well past them

or may not
be viable.

within one of them, under the steaming fur, the main nerve signals NOW and it lunges into

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