Treatise, written by an unknown hand

By Jenny Mastoraki

Certainly there are those who caught fire as they picked their way through a wasted mine. And others who lit up like torches as they dove from balconies of downtown buildings, and still others who ended up in flames (drifting at sea in some sort of unsteady vessel, a brazzera perhaps).

No one knows what happened to those, hard to find, who circulate among us as miserable middlemen and deserters. It's simply noted that they have been seen in big cities, with their burn now shiny from the passage of time. They don't discuss it, but they show it - hardly ever, it's true, only when necessary - like a seal on an imperial missive, which was stolen en route, gone astray, and while the insouciant emperor dines, his postman lies in a deep field of blood and is late.