Cain's Machine

My dream resolved to a face, blonde and pale -
eerie blue eyes lost in the distance,
Cain's horizon without a sky -

hypnotized by unfamiliar constellations
points of light spattered as if sneezed
into the raw, frozen darkness -

he was trying to see to the edge of time
in a glass observatory on a remote moon,
steam pluming from alien machines -

trapped in his own dream of immortality,
to be unbreakable and unchanging -
the dream had become an agony of millennia

in the grip of his own revolving destiny
bound upon a wheel of fire
a point of life in the vacuum, heart-frozen -

eventually, everything of him was broken
like the fable of the reed and the oak
and the storm from the Chinese mountain.

He couldn't live and couldn't die,
his mind locked in amnesiac torment
haunted by voices from past and future lives

whispering their regrets, their lessons
the time he lost and the love
he threw away, the strength he didn't need -

he had enough will left to plead with her,
the only one who loved him,
to feed the unkillable flesh of his body

into machines built to crush him,
grind him to meal to be scattered
throughout his empty universe.

I saw him lying there, mind gone,
as she made the preparations, head held high,
though washed and wrecked by pain.

She could neither forgive nor refuse him
his escape from the machine of light -
the white centrifuges, the galactic octopi

boiling around their black hole cores -
their dervish dance of confusion -
the terrible rebirth of their collision -

he thought he wanted never to be hurt,
to live without the touch of death
and her promise of sleep after too long a day.

She spoke to me, sadly, dark eyes
full of a different kind of strength:
iron in her heart, for surviving -

she explained everything.
Cain was no longer there.
I was only watching the tragedy of her,

a lover, a mother, watching a man
go to his death in a war of his own making -
"the endless conflict of dead matter," he'd said -

and she only knew she loved him;
that he would return to break her heart again
until the stars died into the everlasting darkness.