a phrase/figure of speech,
that apart from its literal historical meaning
stands in for
the end of empires.
everything breathes damply,
epicene air—if it could think anything
it would think un-European things like monsoons
and yellow seas.
Greatness bears itself to death,
says its last words to itself,
a foreign-sounding swansong, generally misunderstood,
perhaps on a rainy day, bummer,
but in this instance a sound of happiness
followed by solo horn,
and then a hydrangea, most placid of flowers,
capable of standing out in the rain into November,
dropped softly into the grave.