It isn’t what I expected.
The world shatters—that much I could’ve guessed.
The world shatters and the pieces fall back into darkness.
The world moves on in the wake of the dragons of time
and I turn away.
I wake up in the antechamber.
At first I try to tell myself that I have nothing to fear.
I’ve been good. I’ve been a thoroughly good person
I’ve loved my friends, I’ve kept my conscience
and I’ve never killed anyone
who didn’t deserve it.
But whom do I kid?
I don’t know what’s going to happen.
It’s a fancy-looking room, though.
White marble, is what it looks like. Although I guess
what it’s actually made of is the past,
Shards of broken time.
“This is the Museum,” says a voice all around me.
take a look around.
But try not to take too much time.
It’s polite to leave some for the Gatherer.”
Through the archway is a room.
The archway is not connected to the wall.
I could walk around the archway.
I decide I shouldn’t.
I decide it would not be polite.
“The first room is you,” says a disembodied voice.
I imagine the voice
as a white guy in a hoodie.
That is the face of death, the voice of AfterLife, of hell.
But the images plastered all across the room
Probably what any friends would pick
if my friends knew even half the shit I’d done.
In the middle of the room
not lined against the wall
there are full-bodied sculptures of everyone in the world
that I love
in the moment when I loved them most.
And on the walls are all
my most powerful memories, the good and the bad
pieces of me
Every single shard of my soul.
“This was your life,” says the voice
But it’s not in my head anymore. It’s right in front of me.
A white guy in a hoodie.
Except I can’t even call him white
Can’t even really see his skin—not his face, not his hands.
He’s not holding a scythe, I realize,
‘Cause my ass already got reaped.
“Come,” says the reaper.
Next room down, I die all over again.
It’s all right there in front of me, what happened.
Just a tunnel vision,
the event replaying all around.
The instrument of my destruction.
And then the world
But behind the world, another moment.
The moment leading to it.
The moment, then, leading to that point.
The reaper asks the occasional question.
“What’s happening here?
What were you thinking?
How did you know?”
Sometimes I remember,
Sometimes I don’t know how I could possibly remember.
Sometimes I feel
like I should
But I don’t.
Now I’m a child, aging backwards into the past.
Memories more fleeting
Moments are fragments.
Motivations are mysteries now, closed books.
“A human life is like history,” says my Virgil.
“And it’s also not.”
The next room is bigger
The next room is infinite (almost),
every moment in the history of the universe
Except for the parts that were missing.
“This is the puzzle,” says the game-master.
“This room is where you will work and live.”
A crashing sound and hundreds of millions
of pieces of time come
tumbling into the room.
Some of the pieces are snatched up by worker bees
So small and far away
They might be people.
I see the recent past and I see the distance.
I see the nuance of Napoleon and Julius Caesar
and I see the evil of Hitler.
I see the Dark Ages as a rainbow of interpretations
and the sixties in black and white,
the crisp shapes not yet muddied.
“This is your existence,” says the Reaper, “plural.
And the gatherer will have her due.”
Is this all that is left to me, to us?
In the Darkness Behind our Garden
Is this all that there is to see?
Is this all that there is to hope for?
Is death nothing more than the past, alive again,
and is it already fading?