The Skylark Prize
Noah Roy Fram
There is an obelisk in the middle of the lawn.
It’s funny, you know, it’s this huge sea of grass,
Asymmetrically criss-crossed by red brick pathways,
And right at the middle there’s this island,
Anchored to the mainland by the scarlet-cobbled filigree,
An insect caught in a spider’s web; here’s the obelisk.
Rising out of the island like the
Statue of Liberty, except there’s
No torch, no book, no crown, face, nor anything
But the momentary, distracting thought.
As far as I can tell it doesn’t do anything more than sit there,
Or stand there, if you’re in a mood for detail.
The tour guide says it holds the ashes of…some
Long-lost ancient dignitary, the name’s on the inscription.
I stare at it, half expecting the thing to speak
With a dead man’s drawling voice, or
Maybe a specter will suddenly appear. But only briefly.
Then we’re moving on, hearing about the
Renovations across the way, and the steam-pipe heating system
They retired long ago, and
The past is left to ashes and useless remembrances…
And now we’ve gone around behind the museum,
I can’t even see the spider web of footpaths anymore,
And I think there’s an obelisk, but then again,
Maybe it’s just another antiquated tree.