The sun comes out and things are growing but the world is dying so I don’t care.
The tips of tulips are poking through the piles of dead leaves, dark green and purple-edged
the red tips of peonies are stretching up and out towards the sun
but even these signs of life can’t convince me that there will be a tomorrow.
Inside, my daughter yells at her computer, something about how her online school sucks
the dog paws at the door to come out and sit with me on the porch
and I let her out and hug her because I can’t get sick from hugging my dog
I can’t get my dog sick by hugging her.
Flocks of sparrows and goldfinches flutter around the birdfeeder
oblivious to the end of the world, untouched by the end of the world.
I reach into the bag of bird food and toss more and more handfuls out to them
finding temporary amusement at their delight. Rabbits and squirrels fight over
the crocus bulbs hidden under the melting snow, I don’t chase them away from my garden
because this is their world now.
There’s a girl on stage and she’s so engaging, everyone’s laughing at her jokes
and for a brief moment, I imagine I could be like her, I could also perform
I could stand up there on stage and speak loudly and clearly and call out
various people from the audience, make jokes about their careers or hair or dates
or just say something really amazing and profound that would make people
nod their heads and scratch their chins and go home and think about the things I said.
Instead, it’s me going home and I’m pretending that yes, I really could do that
if I practiced in front of the bathroom mirror or to the cat, I could climb up on stage
wave my arms and say deep or funny things, wear something ridiculous
that would fold itself seamlessly into the act and just be someone
someone that other people notice.
With increasing haste, we spread ourselves out among the stars
like the scattered seeds of a dandelion head
fleeing from a planet that finally gave up on itself,
on us. We speak of the promise of adventure
loudly, as if we really don’t care that we can’t live here anymore
say there are other planets out there so much better than this one
but in hushed tones, and behind closed doors
we talk about things we could have done to save the world
promise we’ll do better
next time around.
Holly Day’s writing has recently appeared in Analog SF, The Hong Kong Review, and Appalachian Journal, and her recent book publications include Music Composition for Dummies, The Tooth Is the Largest Organ in the Human Body, and Bound in Ice. She teaches creative writing at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis and Hugo House in Seattle.