In Golden Esprit

   Tap the rim of your glass to mine and lean into my shoulder, pull the shawl she gave you around your collar and take a sip of whatever you thought to stuff into your bags as refreshments for the journey. Sit beside me up on this cliff, this ridge, legs hanging down to the great wilderness below as we watch it burn. Watch as the trees fall and the animals gallop fast as a heart can break and lean back to watch the spectacle of the sky as the plumes of the pyroclastic clouds rise higher and higher. We never meant to be in the ring of fire, oh, we never meant to be anywhere that wasn't here. We wanted to be alive when the world fell apart, and here we are. My arm around your hips and your shoulder leaning into mine, and two glasses of whatever we chose to be the last drink of the world as we toast to it burning everything down around us.

   I think you know as well as I do that it isn't going to touch us. For once, we're in the right place, wearing the right flesh, all the way down to the bones. Or maybe it's that we're not wearing flesh at all, for once. Watch the volcano heave and roll as it spews out another line of lyric in its song of destruction. There's ash now, in your hair, sparkling red and gold and silver, smoulders and sparkles like falling stars, like the stars frozen on your skin. Even in autumn, when the leaves change and the world is on fire, and the world might forever be on fire in this moment, the rainbows aren't as beautiful as they are right now, in your hair, dusting the cinders across your face.

   You never asked to be beautiful. I know. I never asked for it, either. The ash falls from your tears to your shawl and burns it away, and now, there's no need to hide. It's already burnt your skin from your bones and left us all but hollow. We were always hollow, in the here and now, in the distant past when the world remembered something other than fire. You and I, in the endless moment stretching on just this side of forever that we call the present, are nothing now but bones. We are but only bones, remembering the world, etching its eulogy in the softness of the marrow.

   The world burns down around us, and we are always, forever, touched by it. When the world turns, so do we. So when the world falls apart around us, shockwaves rolling and laments howling, what does that mean for us? The smoking remains of the volcano no longer stand tall and proud, a hole carved from its head down to the shoulders of its neck, leaving the molten breath of its throat exposed to the world. One more breath between each stanza, each verse of its song of destruction. Don't you remember feeling like that, once? Head chopped off and rational thought cast to the wind, holding so tight to the only words that mattered? The only words that ever meant anything at all?

   Leave your open, brittle vocal chords to the sky for the wind to whistle by. A song of destruction, something so bright and red that in the fires all we can see is blood. Blood you and I don't have, anymore. Blood the marrow of our bones remembers how to make. Take two phalanges to your lips and whistle in answer, whistle in reply of the great sky above. The sky is big and you and I are small. Bones are a cage, for they hold you inside. Even the sky is a cage, if you want it to be, for it ends. Bones have always been more than just a cage, if you let them be.

   The ash settles, and the volcano heaves its last lyric in its song, and for a moment, all is silent. It rains through the night, dampens our bones as tears begin to fall. Tears are nothing more than the rains that douse the fire and replenish the land. Sing the stars to sleep, lay your weary head down in the remains of the inferno that consumed the world. What is there to cry for, really? Nothing but the world burning down around us. Nothing but the flesh so sweetly stripped away, as once we asked the world to do. Nothing but the smouldering cinders in the hair you wore like a crown of falling stars. Nothing is stopping you from claiming another word, another name, talking to the wind as it shows the rain where to weep. The wind whistles and the rain falls, washing away the ash and the dirt, eroding away all but the memory that it buries under the loam. It whittles at the rock, and carves out something new.

   Carve your bones into webs and bend them as only humanity can. The marrow will remember how to make flesh and blood. It will mould them around the bone, unknowing what's changed. It will follow you down to the ground and the loam and the sky. You already shaped it in fire, didn't you? Cut your chest open at the sternum and use the ash of a volcano's final tears to forge it, to mend it, to cool it in the weeping of the sky for all that it lost. We stand on this grave and we allow the sky to weep for us. Stand tall on the cliff that survived and whistle to the sky that for once, for forever, for a single endless, ephemeral moment, everything is finally all right.

   For your heart, when your marrow rebuilds it from the ashes, take the first sapling from the ground and plant it in your chest. Ash is, after all, a rich food to begin the growing season once more. Things wouldn't burn if they never left a memory. Fire exists because we believed it would. The sapling will wrap itself around your ribs and serenade your liver and your shoulders into something new. It will sing a song of creation, remembering what came before. It will choose to blossom and reach for the sky, if only to comfort it when the rain comes crashing down.

   The world came to a standstill, once, and it burned. Ash fell to smoulder in your hair like falling stars, and we watched each other burst into flames. The rain came down and we told the wind to sing a new song, just for us. The volcano ripped itself apart and it will build up something better. I wonder what flowers will nest under your heart, holding in their blossoms until it is time to burst themselves forth from your skin to reach the sun.

   To be a person is to be a sanctum. To be a human is to be an ecosystem. To be you is to be everything glorious in this world, and what better way to be glorious, than to be you? Your bones are only the bedrock of your foundation, and even the volcano refused the peak of them when it was time to change and to become something anew.

   You are not beholden to the form you have held for aeons before, and neither am I. We sing the song of where we came from, and when that song has ended, we will sing to the wind and the sky of where we will go from here.