a lovers’ quarrel at the end of the world
the two lobes of the earth
split apart like a watermelon
lying askew on a cutting board.
rose-tinted water seeps out.
a flower opens its petals as
whole forests succumb to flames.
the clouds that gather above are
not of smoke from the burning
but of rainwater disturbed from
deep inside ancient tree trunks
rising back into the sky like little
hot-air balloons. they know
they will never descend to the
earth again to gather, one by one,
along the waxy spines of leaves.
in their hurry to return to where
they came from, they do not think
to mourn. in their wake, a few
panicked parrots, the last of their
kind, flutter, helpless. their feathers
blend into the fire like the sails
of burning ships. they dip their beaks
to drink from the watermelon
halves, but the rinds have run dry,
and the parrots have only thirst
to comfort them as they gaze
skywards and the heat rages
in the branches beneath them.
the fire, born merciless, will leave
only ashes—no bones, not even of
the birds who have lived all their lives
hollow, as if knowing only the wind
can bury them. now, that wind
has turned, and it will scatter
their ashes without thinking of how
it carries in its scorching arms a
torn-up encyclopedia of half-lives,
an unread map of the eternal, an
undecipherable language of the lost.
Maggie Wang: "I am an undergraduate at the University of Oxford. My writing has appeared in K'in, the Alexandria Quarterly, and Ruminate, among others, and is forthcoming in Shards and Nightingale & Sparrow. I have also won awards from the Poetry Society and the Folger Shakespeare Library. When not writing, I enjoy playing the piano and exploring nature."