The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
We are a doomed lot —
the frayed souls of a Limbo that sails
but never lands. A barge for which there is no berth.
No welcoming shore. Like a ship of criminals
that left its harbor, shunned, cast adrift.
We languish on this floating ruin,
a shard of dirt and rock. Forgotten or ignored.
Festering with anguish,
stripped of home and destination.
Condemned to journey through a sea of exile.
No port would receive the damned, the dead . . .
unless ferried by Charon.
We are innocent! Undeserving of such
punishment — a cruel isolation. Ghosts
are supposed to be earthbound: our bones entombed,
our spirits chained, inhabiting one spot.
If we can’t repose in peace then we ought to be
grounded. Not this. Herded onto a celestial platform,
a deck of sod and stone. Confined like sheep or cattle,
deadstock as opposed to live. A segregated flock,
banished to the sky. Walled in a dirigible of a dungeon
looming amidst the clouds.
A flight of Gypsy Moths drawn to light.
Tricked then trapped by a Bell Jar of harping jailers.
To huddle in a cold bleak hall.
Unmoored, cut loose by the drop of an axe.
Launched over the heads of flesh-and-blood masses.
No space for us. No room below.
There are more deceased than not, and the number
rises, it never falls. These nether reaches
have become too crowded with the restless,
the wraiths and revenants.
Our fates are in the air: undecided, unsettled,
uncertain. That is how we were marked.
Not how we must remain. It could be temporary.
Sins are not always absolute.
Mistakes can be subjective.
Transgressions less than clear in cases.
Laws may bend or change, be twisted,
and we may yet receive a judgement call —
a ring on the Up or Down line.
A special dove or bat delivery.
The gold invitation granting entrance.
The crimson ticket leads straight to Hell.
Listen to the denials. Our shouts of rage,
injustice. The hue and cry of indignation.
We should be fixed in one place,
haunting the same location night after night.
Instead we surf a ragged invisible plane,
trapped on an endless voyage across the firmament.
Forced to travel and see the world but not
be seen. Perhaps this is Purgatory.
In life I was afraid of heights.
You might deem it poetic. If you have a deathwish.
My sense of humor rotted away with my lips,
and pacing the edges of a steep verge, this wretched
piece of oblivion, I wobble ill at ease
as I dare peer down. Unaware of the tiny
human dramas, the sagas and struggles playing out.
Soul after soul whips by, released to ascend.
I have stopped shaking a resentful fist.
Or attempting to pop them like bubbles.
Wherever they go, to Paradise or back to the stars,
I hope they are free. The rancor that matches
the sunset fades. Perhaps I am destined for this
meager rock, this shabby refuge, unable to leave
or accept my station. Hanging in Limbo
upon a ghost isle run by machinery that keeps it aloft.
It isn’t even a godly ethereal plateau —
merely an automated physical contraption powered by
engines and gears. What prevents us from
hopping off at the nearest peak?
The fear of falling.
That is our common ground.
We are all prisoners of our own design,
our own device as the song says. And so we ride
this jumbo chariot, doing what is expected.
What always we do. Just once I would like to
divert its course, engineer my own path
instead of watch the scenery pass by.
Next time you gaze up, know that we are here!
Know it is not as vacant and devoid as you would
imagine or like to believe! We are present
in some state of energy.
Chugging between the jets and rockets,
among the air-trains and flying buses,
hovercars and cycles that congest your domain.
We exist on another level, a veiled dimension
exceeding your range of vision.
Hordes of the dead and unburied, unblessed,
uncherished, unrespected among you, mingling with
the ones who mattered, each of us equal now.
The generations to arrive late. Those for whom
there could be no peace or final resting place.
Ashes were scattered, our souls confined
to a measly morbid slab.
A suspended graveyard where
the departed must wring our hands and tread —
high above demons; far beneath the winged.
A cemetery under the feet of angels in an atmosphere
of gloom and dread.
We cannot glimpse your tall gray cities where
sunlight is blocked by tinted domes and fleets of
air traffic. We miss the busy streets, the commotion
of throngs and vehicles. Yet the worst part
about dying isn’t boredom and quiet; nor the
emptiness that surrounds too brightly, illuminating
Dusk, depriving sleep.
It’s the emotions and burdens too cumbrous
to ever let go. We carry them beyond.
Fiction © Copyright Lori R. Lopez
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
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