01.18.2019
Weekly poem on Trump Presidency

 

JAMIE ZUCKERMAN

The Sublinaries [1]

 

The dust diseases & deadens all—the body inevitably fails. So survival = spiritual. They build pendulums—the path carved in dust: a prayer—amplitude reached again & again & again: all the proof they need of their place on earth. They know the rotation & orbit—earth continues to turn despite what’s been done. Existence: a continuum. They keep to their small place on this earth—safe—knowing their hereness.

 

:::

 

Dear Lille // you’re still away// looking for some seeds // some salvation // the corn is knee high // thin as finger bones // two pigs were slaughtered // to help us last // construction on the new pendulum begins // the supports smell of raw wood // golden in morning light // not yet dusted // in all this ash & dust// it’s the burning season // & you’re still not back // it’s not the same without you // I go to the boundary & look at the horizon // smokey mauve & uncertain // a tug from my gut // I want to go find you

*

To Lille// Hetta died this morning // aged 48 or so // blood bubbled in her spit // the tumor on her neck // the size of a crabapple // her final words were // of love for family & gravity // the colony hasn’t felt wind in 35 days // the turnips harvested // their pale bodies // like children’s heads // like small moons maybe // we continue on // I’m bored // & wonder endlessly // what you must have seen out there

 

*

Sister // remember when we squeezed // our little bodies // through the barbed wire // at the boundary of the settlement // bodies bloodied & stinging in the wind // we watched a tornado turn // lightning made us shriek // you were awed // not afraid // that’s how we got caught // by the elders // well I snuck through // the barbed wire again // my body bigger more bloody // & more free // I sat on the same bluff // looking at the wastelands // but not even a rustle // no you // I looked & wondered what’s beyond // the wastelands // their grey splendor // the pendulum proves the round turn of the earth // that the horizon’s ever receding // & there’s so much possibility in this world // yet I remain at the meeting point // waiting

 

the garden swells // each day I carry water // palms blister // the fucking crows // got the unripe pumpkins // I mourned their loss // picked the seeds // one by one // pale stars in the dust // the elders say I’ll be lead gardener soon // I smile // it’s what I want // right?

 

*

Dear Sister // the silk twine is twisted // the river stone smoothed // to eggs’ satin // the bob is ready // for the pendulum’s starting swing // you will not return in time // to celebrate the beginning // of measurement & ascendance // with goat’s cheese roasted roots honey wine // the collection of our voices // saying we’re here now here now // here now // Arne says out there // is a different beauty // ragged rock with water falling in rainbows // tree covered hills // not all this fucking dust // & I know // you’re there too // seeing all there is to see // I wouldn’t return either // if I were you

 

*

Lille // the pendulum continues // it’s arc traces // the precise path // of earth’s spinning // the passage of sidereal time // etched in dust // this structure is proof // of our smallness // proof of the bigness beyond us // & our small deaths // the stars still // in the browning dawn

 

*

Sister Lille // Ernst died in the night // black-lunged // & asking for his mother // the corn is ready for harvest // the goats are rutting // we continue here // our settlement touched // by paw prints in the dust // coyotes hunger // circling the colony // we’re protected by the pendulum pull // at night I hear them // first one call // like liquid drop // then a howling chorus // more like flowing water // more beautiful // than you’d think // from carrion scavengers // if I stay here // I’ll die with black blood // on my lips // & coyotes slavering

 

*

I’ve decided on a path westerly // with the wind & dust at my back // it’s not just for you// I know // I won’t find you // I go for the waterfalls // for the hills // for all that’s possible // in this reality // I know it’ll be deadly // but so’s this

 

*

Lille // this is the last // I leave this in the garden // where I now you’ll look for me // I’m away now // to see what there is to see // gravity // the invisible force // that thrums through everything // pulls me // to the wideness beyond // the wastelands // & wreck

 

[1] Why is this colony—with their preoccupation with gravity—with proving earth’s spin & pinning their place—named after this lovely sounding word? Perhaps they wanted the near-dead word to have new life in this near-dead world.

About Field Notes from the Apocalypse:

I began writing the week Trump got inaugurated with little idea of what this manuscript might become. It grew organically, almost out of my control for a long time. In exploring the effects of the destruction we'd built for ourselves, I wrote a series of "found texts" from an environmental apocalypse, of which, "The Sublunaries" is one. These texts are collected by a post-apocalyptic traveller, trying to make sense of human history, and document its survival. I wound up thinking a lot about human habits, human nature, what would persist when everything else was stripped away—art, belief, community—and was surprised to find the text was essentially a hopeful. 

 


Jaime Zuckerman is the author of two chapbooks, Letters to Melville (Ghost Proposal, 2018) and Alone in this Together (Dancing Girl Press, 2016) as well as recent or forthcoming poems in Birdfeast, Diode, Fairy Tale Review, Foundry, Glass Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Thrush, Vinyl and other journals. She serves as the poetry editor of Redivider, assistant editor for Sixth Finch, and a senior reader for Ploughshares. She grew up in the woods but now lives and teaches in Boston, MA.

illustration:  anna_croc01

illustration: anna_croc01