elegy for ahsab

Abecedarian after Diablo II

Ahsab died for the last time outside Lut Gholein, his sick

body slack in what might have been relief, though the dry lips

cursed us to honour his last wish: “if I die again,

don’t bring me back.” Thus we snuffed a well-burnt candle.

Every man must do his duty, some of us

far many more times than we expected to.

Gone are the days when a boy could go to 

his reward eating a pike in some skirmish. Diablo walks the earth.

In the end, it was an insect bite that did it,

just one tiny wound grown gangrenous enough to 

kill. Not blades or fire or poison, not heartbreak over

lost love, nor the arthritic ache of nostalgia. At the

mouth of a cave we built a cairn, left his body to the sands.

Not one to stand on ceremony, my partner scrounged

openly in the dirt, sought the adenoidal alkaline tang of mana in

potions, dug dirty fingers into the walls of empty bottles without

qualm, soaked tips in sapphire tears, rubbed dregs against purple,

rotting gums. We were Rathma, after all; death surrounded us,

sunk in the marrow of our bones, blacked the hollows of our eyes.

Those who called us necromancer had only the surface of it;

under the epithet we understood every death weighting the

valence of life more broadly, that capacity of mortal struggle to

withstand the dominion of evil, to imagine itself

xiphoidal, wielded by archangels. Ahsab understood, 

you don’t ask to die just once, or even die well, only that your

zeal sharpens the edge til you are extinguished. Remember him.

Liam Burke (he/him/himbo) lives in Ottawa, Canada, on unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe land. He is most recently the co-author of ‘machine dreams’ with natalie hanna (collusion books, 2021) and ‘Orbital Cultivation’ with Manahil Bandukwala (collusion books, forthcoming). His work has most recently appeared in Savant-Garde, the Jupiter Review, and long con magazine, and is forthcoming in INKSOUNDS and Sledgehammer Lit.

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