01 December 2005

Alice Fulton

Everyone Knows the World Is Ending
by Alice Fulton

Everyone knows the world is ending.
Everyone always thought so, yet
here’s the world. Where fundamentalists flick slideshows
in darkened gyms, flash endtime mess-
ages of bliss, tribulation
through the trembling bleachers: Christ will come
by satellite TV, bearing millenial weather
before plagues of false prophets and real locusts
botch the cosmic climate—which ecologists predict
is already withering from the green-
house effect as fossil fuels seal in
the sun’s heat and acid rains
give lakes the cyanotic blues.

When talk turns this way, my mother speaks in memories,
each thought a focused mote in the apocalypse’s
iridescent fizz. She is trying to restore a world
to glory, but the facts shift with each telling
of her probable gospel. Some stories have been
trinkets in my mind since childhood, yet what clings is not
how she couldn’t go near the sink
for months without tears when her mother died,
or how she feared she wouldn’t get her own
beribboned kindergarten chair, but the grief
in the skull like radium
in lead, and the visible dumb love, like water
in crystal, at one with what holds it. The triumph

of worlds beyond words. Memory entices because ending is
its antonym. We’re here to learn
the earth by heart and everything is crying
mind me, mind me! Yet the brain selects and shimmers
to a hand on skin while numbing the constant
stroke of clothes. Thoughts frame and flash
before the dark snaps back: The dress with lace tiers
she adored and the girl with one just like it,
the night she woke to see my father
walk down the drive and the second she remembered
he had died. So long as we keep chanting the words
those worlds will live, but just
so long, so long, so long. Each instant waves
through our nature and is nothing.
But in the love, the grief, under and above
the mother tongue, a permanence
hums: the steady mysterious
the coherent starlight.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful. I'll have to revisit this whenever I start getting apocalyptic thoughts.