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Love's Plague Marcus loved his neighbor's wife, watched her through bachelor curtains As she knelt in her garden. Her beautiful flexed knees. Her bright blue eyes. Prinking weeds with holy hands, tossing them on piles of steaming mulch. She didn't love Marcus, never knew he was there to love. She'd smile at her burly husband, kiss his butcher lips each afternoon, while Marcus gazed and chewed his bitter thoughts. Such sad, sad love will breed disease. Marcus's agonies spread through the neighborhood, the town, adjacent towns; People fell ill of fever, took to their innocent beds and died; No one knew they'd died for someone else's disappointed love, But they were gone. Dead lovers rose again and walked the streets in bones and rags. Finally Marcus died, his final dream a mockery, the neighbor's wife kissing him goodbye, tears falling down her face. She died next day, asleep with a peaceful smile until her breathing simply stopped. Buzzards appeared, black crosses in lazy circles; authorities were baffled, then died themselves. The last bells stopped tolling. No one now remembers Marcus or his love or even the town itself, or any of that mortal land. Nothing remains but dead, choked gardens: no color, no love, no beautiful woman among the waste, where flower beds once sang glory to love and all creation.
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