I remember standing on the rise, the dig site spread out before me, watching Captain Zimmerman, hands clasped behind his back, walk atop the honeycomb foundations of the ruins with his light, Prussian step. At his feet, the laborers, his charge, toiled in the clay. I was in a wistful mood; in my right hand was a letter from my superior, Neues Museum director Theodore Singer, denying my request to remain in Mesopotamia for another month, and telling me that I must return to Berlin before I caught Yellow fever or Malaria or Typhus or “whatever they have down there” to begin cataloging and translating what I had already found, which, judging by my last correspondence, “was substantial enough,” and demanded an exhibition “as soon as possible, preferably by next spring.” The rest of the crew would remain at the site indefinitely—in an auxiliary capacity, scraping the earth for whatever else it might yield.
The Coffeeshop Buddhist Reclaims His Ego
I know by now that
if I were a true poet
or a determined romantic
I would tell you that your eyes were like the ocean;
hovering, softly, in alabaster waves
above a peaceful blue abyss
Millennial War Cry
We are the kids in America, destined to procreate
deep in the pits of dimly lit rooms
(drunkenly, while on Tinder dates)
We are the kids in America,
who will honor our forefathers’ ghosts
with crying yellow emoticons
and poorly edited Facebook posts
I saw him in the distance, approaching from the snow.
His eyes were filled with the same old light,
but his steps were much too slow.
His uniform, once so clean, was caked with blood and dirt
and frozen tears from the morning mist
clung to the hem of his shirt.
My Vanishing Berlin
Remember the dinner we had that night
on a plaza
in the center of Berlin?
Sunlight – pouring down the patches of my beard
and the freckles of your vineyard-kissed skin
I felt like an amateur movie star
watching your hair
blow back and forth in tennis net curls
in the mist of the wet August air
A shadow upon my mother’s face cast,
She looks to me with her bright composure.
(What becomes of those thorny years now passed?)
Cornered in a hotel lobby,
Empty and quietly still,
Stirs a dancing streak of poppy
Speckled with bursts of daffodil.
Wish You Were Here
I settle, sitting.
The waves crash and seagulls cry.
You’ll come back one day.
Earth, a planet with massive expanses of land to live on, plentiful drinking water and both plants and animals to eat, always seemed perfect for humans to live and thrive. Humans, on the other hand, turned out to be far from perfect for their planet of Earth. The unfortunate human inability to understand their impact on the planet led to a rapid decline in the sustainability of Earth’s resources, and by the year 2455, all but the wealthiest humans are desperate to find a way out of their miserable everyday lives.
The Fragile Heart
I had never left my World. Not until someone sent it clattering to the ground. The looking glass fell from my hand as someone knocked into my arm, landing on the pavement below. I bent down to grab it, but I stopped. I wanted to get back to my World, the World that my looking glass projected for me. Yet my mind was stuck on whoever had bumped into me. I knew based on the blurry images I had seen in my looking glass before that there was was a vast Outside around me; I was just never interested enough to look away. But an Outsider had almost destroyed my fragile World. I wanted to yell at them, berate them for being so selfish. So I turned away from the looking glass to look at something other than my World.
There were hundreds other looking glasses all around me, each occupied by hundreds of other people. They all looked a lot like me, except that every single one of them had their eyes buried in their respective Worlds, picking at their flaws as they studied themselves. A teenage girl to my left dabbed concealer on a batch of acne that had formed along her jaw. A middle-aged man nervously fluffed his thinning hair while his older companion picked at a piece of spinach caught between his teeth. Across the street a young adult was tracing a finger down their lumpy, crooked nose. A sea of faces stood before me, each adorned with varying levels of imperfections. Yet all of them had the same look as they studied the Worlds in their looking glasses.
My looking glass twinkled up at me from where it lay, reflecting the light of the afternoon sun. Spidery cracks had formed across it. Sneaking a quick glance up at the crowds, I kicked it. It slid smoothly on the pavement, stopping to rest a few feet away.
I looked around to see if anyone had noticed. To see if anyone would have heard the noise or detect my movement. To see if anyone would even react. But no one moved. No one said anything, or even looked up. They just continued to stare at themselves in their respective looking glasses, consumed by their own Worlds.
I looked back at my looking glass. I sighed, walked over, and picked it up. I studied my flaws, trying to get sucked back into my World. The World where only I existed. But the cracks in the looking glass distorted my World, splitting it in more ways than I could count. My World was no longer my World, but a kaleidoscope.
By Emily Cerri