Here, especially, there is a bureaucracy,
left behind, perhaps,
a kind of complex shadow of that civilization.
Only a few crumbling remnants of wall remain,
but ticket-takers aplenty at their desks.
And we all clip coupons. Justify our existence.
Tourists come also, and look their fill,
hold onto the guard-rail at the top
of the steps for dear life, peer
into the darkness where the water
disappears, where the electric glow,
for which our site is justly famous,
peters out, just past
where the nearest pillar rises, its beckoning-denying finger
like some denizen of the deeps, brocaded, complex,
a fantasy on a column out of that glorious, but somehow ambiguous past.
Ghostly it is, portentous, forbidding, in a middle murky distance of time and space.
It is like an arabesque of carved cuneiform lines,
the explanation of which has been lost;
we define our world in this arcane terminology:
and we live with the anxiety that it generates.