Picture a diamond spinning against the dark,
flinging back the brilliance of a sun.
Move a little closer – you’ll be stunned
how lakes and oceans flash, how ice-caps spark.
Zoom in lower still and see the forests,
so vibrant, so intense your eyes will ache.
They sweep through archipelagos that arc
across the turquoise waters of the tropics.
Now select an island of that region.
Focus in on green until the stark
disfigurements become defined: the lesions
roaded into wildscape with no pity;
the oil palm tree plantations. Those pock-marks
are cattle plains, those giant squid are cities.
Then hover over one such. Be a bird
– a scavenging kite. Greedily eye the slim
parishioners of plastic sheeted slums
that make the creature’s long limbed outline blurred.
Note the ruins dotted round the place:
churches, shocked by seismic shifts, have tired,
have cracked and crumbed, and as they fell interred
the notions of a colonising race.
Swoop down on a square where scuttle squads
of vertebrates that teem like ants when stirred.
They mill round marble forms of many gods,
and taking up one plaza-side’s the regal
(though taste can vary, and some might say “absurd”)
mass of an immense Baroque cathedral.
Many thousand sticks of incense smoulder
blueing the gloomy hall within this building:
many thousand threads of vapour bending
wispily into the roof vaults out of holders
which smoke before a hundred pagan altars.
A cankerous crust of ash and dust and mildew
mottles myriad local gods which moulder
upon stone plinths. Slivers of sunlight filter
through the cerulean cloud and glint on marble
angels and cherubs overlooking older
divinities, from a rood screen depicting a garbled
tableau of Paradise. A throng of worshippers share
faith between Faiths, and bearded shamans rub shoulders
amicably with the clergy of Moshadir.