Self-Portrait in the Post-Apocalypse

Written by Trini Rogando – Instagram: @trini.writes

I find the Polaroid camera on a Catholic altar,
as if someone left it as a tribute for their God

rendered radio-silent. Men weren’t always so desperate for a sign 
of divinity, but most things have changed: I used to hate

mushrooms; now they are all that tinge my tongue. In
the early days we begged and lauded; now anyone left sees

that God is dead. Through all this, still the mushrooms prevail. 
How was I to know that dirt warbles salvation in fork-tongued sulfur?  

That these blooms of nuclear bile streaming from my throat
only prolong a doomed marathon, heaving and panting? 

I take a picture to see myself—the Narcissus of the apocalypse, 
a portrait brimming in false perpetuity. It is easier to stomach 

watery myths like these; unlike God, they cannot fail. 
Every night, strokes of twilit dreams paint themselves across

the dark anew— a constancy for disbelievers who still wait to be
revered . Long-ago myths say the Greek pantheon formed 

the greatest heroes’ souls into constellations, lining their glory
in watercolor from one point to the next. Today, tangerines 

erupt in sweet mushroom clouds from the new-age
Vesuvius, twenty-six miles thrice over. I wonder if

the stars look down at this scorched carnage and laugh. If they see
my portrait, my paltry attempt at immortality, and mock.

Underfoot, dirt-covered mushrooms burgeon 
from atomic gravesoil. I force my fingernails to 

grope at kinship until we are locked in an embrace. 
Killer and killed. Life and death. Faith and…

I bite at sprouted ambrosia to live; I tempt the gods and
become sacrilege in a world of lack. Perhaps if I squint

I can make out a haze of their trochaic form in 
the fertile prose of my curves. Maybe they share

in this portrait, sculpted to perfection, 
sanctitude burning stain from blurred film. I would

not be surprised: last night the wind smelled of orange rind
and the starlit ground grew pomegranates from ash. I fancy

my breasts to be boons, this corporeal garden a held-breath Pompeii.
Stygian flowers again take root in my fungal throat, but

folly permeates through time too. Remember: folly
in Troy was called self-preservation. Hector ran 

thrice from the grief of Achilles in 
wisdom, not cowardice. Heaving still, I toss

the picture aside, declare this grave a temple,
trace my soul into constellations with a divine hand.

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