Napoleon’s Last Words

There is a panorama somehow unfolding before me

like a landscape painting on an infinite canvas

all of you look as little dots crowding and clustering

in armies of barely distinguishable colors

smoke is rising from cannonades, and here and there

blasts of dirt tinged with red blossom and fall back to the earth.

How can my vision widen when my eyes are closing?

There is stamping of horses hooves and the smell of moldy bread

the cold hits me as hard as a fist raised in anger

and my extremities shrivel up and turn black, Moscow burns behind-

these are my armies, they are fighting every battle

I have ever fought. They replay my wins and my loss

they showcase my brilliance and my sin.

This landscape changes with my breathing

each breath, shallower than the preceding one

darkens the scope, the edges burn away

and blue skies hanging over bright green fields

blur into haze

until my eyes gaze into Josephine’s.

What does all of the world, the allegiance of its peoples mean

without my empress, my queen standing by my side?

I will whisper my love for her into the ear of God

and He will bring her to me

for I too once ruled a world.

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