Sparks settle far along the fields below me.
The light lingers for a moment, dims, then sizzles
out as small puffs of smoke rise.

Beneath the earth’s crust, my heart pulsates
on newly born beats as my brood runs down the length
of me, crawling and swallowing all. My mouth billows smoke,

lava flowsfrom my veins. Blackened ground crumbles
as I crack the sky. Pumice falls down and a torrent of fire drenches
creatures, burning ash in their mouths as I bluster.

Panicked birds take flight; smothered screams replace their songs.
Flames shine down on my shadow’s residents as I make this land mine
again. Herculaneum will be their grave.

The world bleeds fire and dust. I can hear
the people calling out to their gods who suffocate beside them.
Heat scorches their eyes, blistering their skin.

Their ashen hands claw at their throats,
desperately trying to draw one last breath.
A silence soon comes, with bodies buried deep.

For centuries I stand, new pests making homes
upon my forgotten neighbors. Ruined villas and narrow,
uneven streets hide under legions of ash.

Had the winds blown differently, the city may
have been spared and not filled lungs with stone.

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