In The Year Three Hundred and Ninety One

In The Year Three Hundred and Ninety One

The Library of Alexandria is burning
The sky is still clear
Street lights have not yet been invented
Even modern poets, even one
so Christianized as Cavafy
would be chagrined.

If it were possible, we would stand
in the square
well up-wind of that flaming furnace
watch with a sense of foreboding anticipation
as the orders of Theodosius are carried out.

He will say, “In three centuries
Moslems will enter the picture,
and we shall blame them for this atrocity.”
Scribes will dutifully set down his prevarications.

Parchment burns well, and quickly
The job is done before you know it.