The End of the World in Ten Stanzas
i) The Sun is dying, and at least
all the newspapers in the world
can finally agree on a headline.
None of them know what picture to use.
ii) My cousin buys a telescope when everyone else
buys canned beans and assault rifles because
they’ve watched all the movies.
He learns to stargaze. He knows
half the stars he sees are already dead.
He decides not to tell anyone.
iii) The man down the street finally has that affair
with the woman in the law office.
His wife doesn’t get mad.
She kisses him the same, just a little bit different.
iv) My childhood friend sends me a postcard
saying “wish you were here.”
He lives two doors down.
Somehow, that doesn’t matter.
v) More people go to church. The pastor doesn’t
talk about hellfire these days, but he
also doesn’t talk about much else, either.
Someone burns down the building.
The people still go.
vi) The blanket industry is booming.
Everyone’s remembered when they were
six years old
and bed was the safest place.
vii) People stop guarding museums.
I see the Mona Lisa in my neighbor’s living room.
Van Gogh’s field of crows is shoved under my high school teacher’s bed.
viii) It snows. When it stops, the clouds don’t clear.
The children go sledding like a solemn ancient ceremony.
Like a nativity play, like an altar procession.
ix) We spend too long eating and too long
watching each other’s mouths.
The chaos slows to a crawl.
My cousin stops watching stars and starts
watching silent movies.
x) We forget how to look each other in the eyes.
We forget that our hands can fit together.
Still, the Sun is dead.
Still, we adapt.