by Belinda Roddie
I wash my hair with golden linens
before rising from the basin of the sun.
My servants await me; they have dragged
my silver oxen across my fields, and are
now laden with the literal fruits of their labor.
People once said that a post-scarcity world
was impossible, but I have remolded
the earth to serve me with its spoils. I wade
in wine and swallow chocolate by the spoonful.
The meats and cheeses laid before me are only
shared with a portrait of my beautiful wife.
This was how I made my empire: When
the apocalypse subsided, I scraped away
the radioactive ash and found fresh soil
that I and those few survivors tended to.
Trees grew again. The air grew colder. We felt
strong breaths return to our aching diaphragms.
One by one, the last remnants of humanity died
but me. I was not human anymore. Not with
this mutated body and soul.
I have crafted my attendants out of clay
and stone. For heartless golems, they take
orders while still holding misshapen smiles.
My spot on this land is untouched by disaster
these days. Mother Nature bows to me now;
the rest of her kingdom wasted away long ago.
I preserve her newborn children; she respects
me for that, and rewards me.
When the half-eaten moon hovers over me,
its glow makes a mockery of my remaining scars.
Years ago, my wife kissed them all over, told me
that I was beautiful. Well, now I am the most beautiful
emperor in this new, stilted history. Where are
my kisses and comforts now?