over the last rise

we assumed we were alone, and by “alone” we meant
only that we had come such a long and weary way
and had expected to catch a glimpse of some pale sea,
shining only for us. that’s what we meant by “alone.”
but arriving was something else. unexpected, like a trap.
instead of wilderness we found wheat and fruit trees.
instead of adventure: cultivated lawns, domesticated dogs,
a lived-in look. wandering, we found ruins of carnival rides.
a peeling, hollow cinema. some fire-rings and trash.
we had not got into something new, something unseen.
rather, having fled the decaying civilization of our forebears
we seemed to have cycled round into the wagon-ruts
of its antecedent, one they or someone else we knew
had once escaped by the skin of their teeth
and in the nick of time.

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