Caligula's Memories


CW: death and seizures

Did you truly beg the moon to enter your warm embrace
like Suetonius said you did? How did you pull the moon
into turquoise adoration as you hung your arm over
the stone ledges of a grandiose home that has since
disintegrated into dilapidated, murky ruins? I imagine
you looked at the reflection of the silver moon in
mercurial waters. I imagine you sobbed and in between
lucid seconds believed it stared at you with eyes like yours.
I imagine you saw a million eyes fluttering open and closed.
Was it beautiful? Memory twisted you into something
insane, cruel, bloodthirsty. Did you want anything more
than for the cold moon to bless you with the vivaciousness
of stars? The falling sickness Suetonius alludes to made you
afraid of sudden flight. Worry not. I remember my first aura too.
Phosphorescent zigzag lines across the horizon vibrating in
a sunless sky inscribed in ancient static. I imagine you saw
the same. Did you ever resist the tides of history, thinking
that you should write your own account, defeating Suetonius
long before he even existed? You did not see the future,
but you knew the fate of the past Caesars. Did you die with hardly
a sacred cough? You were not the first to be torn apart by
motley crowds that way. Were you angered by your body lying
under turf until kind sisters burned you into forgettable ashes?
Have you already forgotten? Were you surprised you died
by men, and not the moon? You are remembered, but only
in a picture of caricatured lunatic devilishness. The moon sings
your curses. I daydream of altered history where Suetonius
forgets to gossip. Did you feel lighter when convulsion fell upon you?
I remember euphoria. Will you ever tell me what you recall?
Or will you allow it to be lost in intermittent, eternal rebirth?

Dimasilaw (he/him) is a Filipino artist and writer who loves Biblical exegesis and his dogs. His words are either published or forthcoming in The Hearth, Paper Crane Journal, and perhaps others.