Necropolis Burning

by Bruce Boston
 

No one knew how it started.
The dead don't smoke.
 
Smoke at first rose
from a single gravestone.
Then several more.
A sickly yellow haze,
rife with the stench
of burning corpses,
obscured the cropped lawns
and temple mausoleums
of the lifeless city.
 
The dead don't light candles
or celebrate the Fourth of July.
 
The fire lay deep within
the twisted catacombs
that laced the underworld
of the underworld of Necropolis,
a dank and leaden labyrinth
of tunnels where no soul
was consigned to pass.
 
The tombs of the dead
are not heated.
There are no fires
of wood, oil, or gas.
 
From the high towers of Necropolis
-- thick with dust draped
in clinging tendrils --
as far as the eye could see,
columns of smoke rose
from the patchwork landscape.
 
Perhaps a passionate love affair,
still incendiary beyond the grave,
had ignited the blaze.
 
Perhaps the weight of history,
braced heavily against
the polished stones,
slipped and struck a spark
that condemned the city
to the engulfing flames.
 
At last all the dead
would be burned to ash.

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