Black hair; in it, the
white flower of mourning.
Its heady scent followed everywhere,
reminding always of what
had been lost, forgotten.
Kaile, last girl on Earth.
Wild animals caused her no harm;
sensed intuitively her rarity—after this,
no more. Extinct. Forgotten.
The lions stayed away.
She had named herself.
To her, Kaile was infinite sadness;
grief unexpressed for the Before
she had never known. She wore it with
a quiet dignity, the way she wore her flower:
in the hope that it was worthy of those who
had come ahead of her,
shaping metal and earth to whims and fancies,
subduing all without thought.
Kaile lacked that authority.
The animals caused no harm,
nor did they love her,
Nor did the mountains,
nor the waters,
nor the forests.
Living was not a difficult thing.
She thought the ground soft;
she had never known any other bed.
Days spent in grief and nights, dreamless.
She tracked down the remnants of Before,
The roads, the art, the clever canals, the Parthenon,
the desolate buildings clawing at the sky.
The emptiness pronounced by
what had once not been empty.
The monuments proudly—but silently—
proclaiming, “We were here,
and we did not want to be forgotten.”
It made the loneliness
open within her, to see
photographs and sculptures,
tools and instruments,
doors waiting to be unlocked
by keys in buried pockets.
In time, after she was gone,
they too would disappear,
she and them
and the concept of “artifact.”
So she would give them what she could:
she would not forget,
even if she could not comprehend.