I opened suddenly, like a crack
of dawn, golden, molten, running
over the flat desert vista.

What my jaundiced view saw
was nothing I could describe,
nothing you’d want to hear about.

It was just a yellow-orange blur,
really, but I used my imagination:
a jungle of xanthine beasts;

ochre ocelots, citron cheetahs,
tangerine tigers, lemon lions
prowling parched plains,
hunting for breakfast.

The Historian

I had breakfast where I always have it,
and ate for breakfast what I always eat:
a soft-boiled egg with a piece of toast.
No jam; no butter. No salt on the egg.

The eggshell was slightly deformed
this morning. What can they be feeding
those hens, I thought, and was briefly
worried about poisons in the food chain.

The egg looked like a little white house
with a little white roof on top, as if one
could just twist it off and look in. So
I did. But what I saw was not the inside

of an egg, nor even the inside of a house,
but the inside of a ruin. I was looking out
through stone walls, partly demolished.
Smoke still lingered in the aftermath

of whatever had caused the destruction,
but that agent was invisible. On the floor
lay a dead woman (I knew she was dead
because her skull had been crushed flat

beneath a stone). Beside her a baby cried.
Without thinking I tried to reach through
to the child, but as I did, the roof timbers
caved in upon it. The rest is history.

F. J. Bergmann edits poetry for mobiusmagazine.com and imagines tragedies on or near exoplanets. Work appears irregularly in Abyss & Apex, Analog, Asimov’s, and elsewhere in the alphabet. A Catalogue of the Further Suns, a dystopian collection of first-contact expedition reports, won the 2017 Gold Line Press poetry chapbook contest and the 2018 SFPA Elgin Chapbook Award.

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