“At the end of the world, there is a girl” by J.R. Gerow
At the end of the world, there is a girl
At the end of the world, there is a girl:
Toes up-arched, density of birdbone.
She is pregnant, blueskinned and taut,
And must turn out the lights for the last time
From a control room above the sprawling metropolis,
Chittering, resurgent with animals in the dusk.
The world overtaken by mice,
Wasps nattering in the ceiling,
And that piece of man that man
Cannot see or touch – that directs his will
And is only apparent when its agent departs,
The extended phenotype of the species –
Is everywhere, like a residue, in the ash and windchatter.
To her, the scene of Tokyo or Bangkok
Or New York or London is barely familiar,
The meanings of billboards, script indecipherable,
Smiling creatures with their toothpaste, sedans, prophylactics,
Architecture only suggestive of purposes
She might imagine were the world
A vastly different place.There is no sadness
For her because there is nothing to miss.
She throws the switch perfunctorily,
Neither stoic nor broken,
Barely curious, watching the dark ripple out.
The child turned inside her is not a dirge.
She is immune to our insistence that this is a world to mourn,
To wail after.
Doesn’t care for the plays of Shakespeare,
Monet’s Water Lilies, pop songs, or the Fourth of July.
She chews a grass strand in her teeth and strategizes her egress.
The fetus in her turns
Without our narratives, without our wants:
Just a hopeful question,
Same as ever and always will be.
J.R. Gerow lives in the Bronx.