On the Altar I Would Lay
Portia Carryer

I hear the rats in the ceiling tossing back and forth the things they've stolen --
spoons, tea towels, computer cords & incense sticks,
a pincushion full of pins -- and I on my back on the floor
track their noises with my eyes: What are they building?
An apocalyptic temple.

The Temple of Rats Calling Down The End-Coming Time of Gaping Souls.

On the moon the astronauts lied:
they found brimstone. Brimstone is what
will burn us all. In museums in children's rock collections
across America the brimstone is biding its time.

If there was room, I would go into the rats' crawlspace,
my arms full of offerings my mouth full of offerings
to give unto the Temple. I would lay my feet my hands my long hair
over the altar and say Take what you need.

I would chink the cracks of the Temple walls
with coffee grinds and tulip bulbs and mud
and who knows if we will be here still to see them bloom:
blind tulips in the crawlspace. The cat chatters at the ceiling.

When it comes, the apocalypse in all its glory
I wonder how it will know us / what signs might mark us out.
Saved. Brimstone is just sulfur really, lemon yellow
the stuff of matches and fertilizers. Fire and growth
sowing brimstone in the fields. I can hear
the rats whispering their prayers:

Yea, though I walk --

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I carry the sword and the stone, I carry
the band still playing I carry the cat and the elephant
and the tattoos proclaiming I believe I believe I --