by

Elizabeth R. McClellan

after @notaleptic 

She asks if somewhere,
the machines stopped beating
like a great and terrible heart
sticking to wind down. I have heard 

it is so, but the forests are
deep enough now to hide horrors.
It’s too much to hope they all
ran from one central ventricle,

one great clockwork watch with
a golden chain. The high buzzing
is the flies in summertime, for the
endless now that is not promised,

the stories of a bear taller than
the treeline are all fourth hand.
Surely we would hear it coming,
louder than locusts, leaving trunks 

in its wake. Surely we are safe
here; the well is clean, the wood
for the stove stacked high, the thatch
growing denser over our heads. She 

asks every day about the machines
and I repeat myself until my replies
are threadbare as the knees of my
last pair of jeans, giving way at the 

rivets, passing into rags like I hope
the metal beasts have passed to
wire and scale, shards of brittle plastic
left too long in the sun. I remember 

the hunting herds, like horses crossed
with devils and human hands. She
learned this fear as a fairytale, dark
warning: child, don’t go in the woods 

alone. too much for a little mind to
fathom, the days of flaming sunlight
when we melted them with liquid heat,
left their hulks that would not rot 

smashed and broken where they fell,
confusing the vultures that circle
all battlefields in the ancient bargain.
There will be no machines today, I say, 

a prayer disguised as a proclamation.
Today I will patch my jeans again, see
how long they hold against the ravages
of time and work, listen still for the insect hum.

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