A Portrait of Death As an Artist

by Phuoc-Tan Diep

Light peels back the night from faces
with prayers engraved on chiselled lips
the mist of souls is teased towards the sky
by the sun that lifts the veil to peep
at death upon the ground
already calling those bodies down
the bodies of boys buried neck deep
in metal tombs no longer draped in laughs.
The water-colours of yesterday have dried,
like oil, becoming water-fast
so time scrapes the scene and scrapes the scene
until all the flesh is gone and bones are stones
that mark the beds of boys that overnight
joined their forefathers in the grave.
The tombs crumble into remnants,
overrun by the forest’s creep.
Green crystals encrust copper,
swords and helmets lie exposed.
Earth draws the greens back down,
reds and golds blur the setting sun.
Black night tumbles from the sky,
pierced by time’s perfect aim.