I was walking in the realms of the dead
Where old pyramids hide forgotten gods
And empty lakes stand open with motionless
Biers once aflame, now only ashen treasures
Their worth unwritten in the sands
Which stretched on around open, still hands.
Sarcophagi stood ajar, the memory of eyes
Gazing off into no worlds.
Rows of tombstones under leafless maple trees
Whose roots took in no water stood cracked
Like the rounded backs of old men seated
At the cafeterias of unvisited nursing homes
Barely aware of the loneliness created by
The visible memory of their once lives.
The grass wilting before the old tombs,
Memoirs not reminding.
In some places in those realms the dead still
Walk but they are not the happy ones for
At least those who lay at rest do not feel
What they do not feel but those who walk
Still hear the sound of their deafening lies
More dead than the dead whose company,
Shambling, rambling, muttering without breathing,
They keep without keeping.
I could not remember why I had come here
And I saw the crypt where I had been buried
And walked inside to see if I was still there
But came out on the other side; it was empty
Within, and I saw a hill and a valley and
Mounted on the walls I saw mirrors reflecting
A hollow light bouncing that lit
I saw other forms standing before the mirrors,
Those who had walked through tombs like mine
Their hands raised to the mirrors in confusion
The light bouncing off their dry tongues
And they seemed to want to drink it, but the
Light would not satisfy but only hint
Only promise a drink of vision
But would not give.
Before me rose a mirror and it spoke to me in
Strange somber sounds silvery, seductive, silent,
More silent for the softness of its sounds,
But I could not see my own face, only the dull
Pulse of a false light behind a glass and I could see
A form that was not mine behind, far away in the glass,
Whose hands reached, and I shuddered
And the glass shattered.
And the hands came through and they burned as
They touched me and I heard a chorus above me
As I burned and was pulled through and the glass
Breaking was my skin bleeding as I screamed
And I was hushed and told to look back at
Those who stood at mirrors, thirsting without
Relief for the dead cannot see the purpose
Of the drink they do not desire.
I thought to return and break their glass but
Instead I rose and a current and a sweet smell
Lifted me away as the brightness began to burn and the pain
Was like knives stabbing in and through and
I thought I was screaming, I asked for mercy.
“This is Mercy,” I heard, and I thought I was screaming
but then I heard myself
and I was laughing.
Composed in 2014, on the occasion of listening carefully to The Waiting Room on the recommendation of a dear friend and Genesis enthusiast. Listen yourself below: