for Anne Bassett

After the generals have blown
the emaciated surface off the northern hemisphere:

after the magic half-lives of blasted particles
have cooled and what is left of life
has thawed as bits of algae
and drying evidence,

a few crazed cave fish flopping in the waterless glow,
the multitude of husks of the seventeen-year cicada,
the angels will awaken!
Eyeless guiltless microbes once more, the angels,

after they have oozed and shivered in investigation
and dried their impossible mitochondrial
tears of laughter and derision
brine and gall and a little grief but not much,

will begin to calculate,
will, being in themselves figures of faith
the enlightened epiphany of the inward lens,
awaken also to the petrified wind

bearing fragments of echoes
of protestations of faith that have been sloughed behind
by who protested such faith and died anyway
and disagreeably.

They, the angels, will search for evidence
being figures also of anthropology,
of faith without protestation
and filaments of dead-now long love

and they, those angels, will find it.
But it will not be found in faith or filaments
electrified in the lightning of ancient memory
or in the windblown sermons of church and godmen.

It will not be found in the orotundities of statesmen
or in complacent discursions of science
for that, the ultimate manifestation of human faith
will not be in the province of religion or of nations

or of their adumbrated understanding of the cosmos.
The sign will be found by no one
in the murdered child’s mortal footprint
toddled into the fossilized mud.

Richard Fenton Sederstrom was raised and lives in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and the North Woods of Minnesota. Sederstrom is the author of seven books of poetry, his newest book, Icarus Rising, Misadventures in Ascension, published by Jackpine Writers' Bloc, was released last winter. Read other articles by Richard Fenton.