The City Sestina
She sits by the river, in the city’s
heart. The cherub whispers still of her love,
sings of a river in days gone’s lost light,
her by her side, perfect as memory.
It whispers of lost nights clawing for the world.
In the silence, in the dark, her heart dies.
So he steps from the night, fresh to the world,
and the cherub is silent, memory
stayed. He looks to her with something like love,
the Ka Faraq Gatri, yet bringer of light.
The cherub laughs, holds his light to her death:
The Doctor sits, his eyes on the city.
‘There once was a place, that against the dark
burned, bursting with life,’ he says to the world,
‘of cherry blossom always in bloom: love,
joy, and time: a perfect metropolis,
its better unheard of in memory.
I swore I would find it before I died.’
‘And I searched far and wide, I remember,
in times you could not believe, and on worlds
where people of smoke lived, and danced, and loved.’
His eyes spark: ‘I found in the face of death
warm bustling life. But as for this city
to me, it stayed lost: a shadow of light.’
‘Then I met a man who told of its death,’
he said, low and dark, eyes to the city
deep in the river, lost in memories.
‘He showed me its corpse, its dried frozen love
dissected. I cried to see only dark
what was light, salt tears in grief for that world.’
‘But no more. Xanadu lives in my love,
in my heart, still safe from time, safe from death.
Whenever I want, I see the city
and walk in its streets, and drink in its worlds
and sit in the square with the fountain light:
it can never die, in my memory.’
The cherub - half dead - kicks its heels, its love
gone with him, her light just its memory:
away from the city, he gave her worlds.