The End

The End
by Ben Aizenberg

A concrete tower. Dusk. Somewhere in the city.
A needlepoint of darkened buildings against the orange sky.

An old man shambles into view. His face is hard, gnarled. His clothes are expensive, but dour and serious. A heavy kind of luxury.

Watching the man, a greasy pigeon sits hungrily beside the guttering. It starts when he enters, its pale wings fluttering weakly.

The man grunts to himself. He receives a message on his phone. As he reads it, his face hardens even further. He skulks inwardly and shifts something into his hand.

In his mottled palm, behind some solid hefty looking rings is the rainforest.

It is beautiful. The size of a cricket ball.
The mist above it rises like a small halo,
Silvering the tops of the tiny trees,
Each fragrant with flower,
Tinily, imperceptibly, the lower branches of the trees sway with life,
Monkeys the size of ants, swinging in the dusk, with tiny yells of protective mothers holding their mewling young. There are lovely clatters
Of fruit fly-sized parrots that dazzle like tiny neon jewels. All is colour and wonder. All is life and movement and dance.

The man grips the rainforest in his hammy palm. His knuckles are white.
He drops the small ball of life and air off the edge of his multi-storey car park.
For a moment it seems to hang in the air, and then. And then it begins to plummet towards the busy traffic below, shadowed and murky.

The earth ball loses parts of itself in its descent,
Spilling trees hundreds of years old like grains of rice into the air where they slip into the dusk.

The world takes its last breath and holds it.

The pigeon sees this happen, and in the instant his watchful eye registers the movement. In a flutter of wings he takes off.
A swoop through the air, a swish of wind and the rainforest is in his wings. The purple iridescence on his chest becomes plum. A zebra strike adorns his face. He is transformed. A pigeon no more, he becomes a parrot. As quickly as if it were the flick of an electric current, his wing tips – strong, now – arc against the currents of the air in tangerine and topaz.

The world breathes again, opening up its lungs.

The parrot lets out a cry, a thrilling rill of victory. The sky begins to rain, the weather darken. Leaves begin to adorn the cruel buildings, the air blurs and shimmers,
A sticky heat thickens it, filled with scents of fecund perfume, flowers and earth.

The parrot flies on. And in his claw is a single sphere the size of a cricket ball.
Wreathed in its own furnace stench, blackened and plastic is the world of man.
The parrot flies off into a jungle, thronging with vibrant life.

The world sighs a contented sigh of relief and lies down to rest.


Ben Aizenberg is an English teacher and writer working in Sussex, UK. His poems focus on the complexity of our world and the opportunities for connection that writing allows. His poem ‘True’ is featured on the Tin Can Poetry website.

Published by