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.