I escaped from the city
barefooted. I escaped from the fires
naked, except for the bag
of ancient books
slung over my back.
I ran into the desert. The horsemen
chased. Their torches
had coloured the tenements.
I ran for months. Finally
on a glorious night
I stopped. The raiders had given up
on me. I was alone
with the moon and the sand-dunes.
I looked down at my feet.
They were skinned.
I looked at my trace: red footprints
dark on the glowing plain.
I thought about my tribe
butchered as sacrificial beasts.
I remembered their smiles
before the flames. On the holy night
I knelt before the moon
and wept. In the desert
tears are elixir. From their pool
a fountain bubbled. I cleaned my scars
in the water. The books
weighed on my body. I took them out
and one by one
dipped them into the spring.
All knowledge, all art, and all history
drowned before my eyes. Freed
from the clutch of paper
words’ ink dissolved in the lake.
I then drank. I was saved.