The children run and play in a dark world.
The smoke infiltrates our lungs: fits of coughing interrupt their play.
They play in a dead world, putting on a show for those half-alive.
Perhaps they’ll find something beautiful among the poison –
a red, red rose; the last glint of colour; a treasure.
Their treasure lighting up the world.
Ma, pa, they call while tugging at our sleeves. Come look,
See what we found! They drag us to a place we’ve no time to be.
They don’t care about the mountains of emails we have to sort for the officials.
They see beyond the dark as they pull us around puddles of mercury;
oil painting rainbows across the shattered pavement.
We’ve no money for shoes, our radioactive protection jackets inherited
Three generations, our children the fourth.
We’ve no better place to be than outside. The rain
already ate our roof a thousand times. The remnants of ancient devices
are scattered across the ground; shoved by a snow plow, whatever
snow is, into toxic heaps.
A year is a century to modern machine,
a fleeting loop to us. Our children’s laugh a bell through the darkness
until they reach their hope: a withered bush of organic remnants
rotten beyond the core.
One last flower they swear was there
but ten minutes ago.