She tells the boy it's a water tower.
Concrete gray and green, it rises forty feet
on iron legs; egg-shaped lank and warped, the body
curves like a turned bell. The roof rusted through
it holds water, though only four feet deep, the rest
pours from the metal hull. No one remembers
the year it was built, but it's been standing there
a long time. At night, the boy hears concrete
fall in wet chunks, a low wind whine
through its wide cuts. And he can barely
sleep. In summer, the boy swims
in its dark water. He goes all the way under.
She never stops him though the water infested
with bird shit and invisible worms
will, by winter, tattoo itself in small red Os
on the inside of his wrists. And she doesn't
repeat the whispers: it's a messiah's cup, a chalice
disguised as a tower, the water tinged brown
by something other than iron. The barbed wire
fence, the steel barriers, the danger signs
all a hoax. So that no one comes. What good
would it do? Even if pilgrims appear
with antidote, even if a single dose could cure
the fatigue and fever, it wouldn't be enough.