Photo by Jeff Sirkin



of what the end of the world looks like:

are we there yet are we there yet the ash

I wash from my sheets tonight

the blanket too the pillows everything

which is nothing really just fires the yellow sky

and red sun a journalist’s dream it was this bad

and we stayed alive it was the first day

of fourth grade and she said unlimited books

and he wore his new light-up shoes

which in the haze were especially

and seeing all the moms again I had forgotten which

had family in Texas in Puerto Rico this week

all is taken from some of them the wall of water the rooftops

the parents in Guam the sky full of light how many of us

disappearing through this colander shook out

into wherever the state fair feeling of our new life

I mean we are still alive and last year my girl won a silver medal

in mutton busting yes really and hell yes this year she will ride again

but the whirl of it as the only way the whirl of us

against the spinning wall do you know the one I mean

Round-Up Souls for Christ they call it at the cabbage

& tater festival in Hastings but more commonly

it is just the one where you can hold hands and then are frozen within yourself


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*** ** ***



In the basement of the hospital

is a town called Easy Street. No one lives there.

A town of latches, doorknobs, curbs

where you learn to do the stupid things you used to be able to do.

Up the stairs you go and pay your fare.

The bus driver is a faded cardboard cutout,

the skyline sweetly outdated. No one is in a hurry.

Midnight and it’s a real ghost town, empty wine glasses

forgotten in the fake restaurant,

a few more beside the fake bed.

The Buick Skylark

parked out back has no engine.

All I can do is lock, unlock. Behind me

the midwife sounds out ideas

woven into the carpet. How high

the reach, how thin the rail. Easier

to get to my body through another’s, to skirt

the curb. Tonight

or tomorrow I will become two people.

A path in the carpet to where furniture was.


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*** ** ***



Another one, we said, just one more

once more into the

and when it went beyond, I in my slippers

and he in his traffic, too much

or too little, pull of the mind

on waking too, too late, too fast down the hill,

but also then it was too few,

too sweet, too early to know, or too soon,

although by then none of us remembered

how it felt to be alone, I mean we wanted that too

sometimes, but too when we were alone

it was too quiet too real as the oldest would say

too often, too real meaning keep going

but without me.


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*** ** ***



everyone was asking what filter would be best

during those seconds when together we clicked over into darkness

my daughter’s ten forward rolls across the chill dark grass

the darkness so well-organized I wanted to email someone

well you do not need to know how perfect it was

how many hours we had driven the minivan knee-deep

because for all our fun there was always another much larger

wheel turning alongside our life the real

the coal trains moving only at night the prison in the Ukraine how it was in the news

then replaced by other news

I don’t really want there to be more of us I am not looking to find

anyone although my girl spinning across that grass crooked into our neighbors

how to live in this not just wait for it to be over one of them

was always running across the field what else can you do

in the silence were we too contained in our joy we held it between us

we drove it home where was I in this I was in the extra looking all around


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*** ** ***



I built a house that could not hold us.

Uterine kitchen, porthole bookshelf, the beds

hung with rope. Deep green curtains

I’d copied from the movie about the arsonist.

The children with their pocket knives

allowed to roam. Living room so vast

I barely recognized you beneath the sconces.

Who could keep this up? When you taped plastic sheeting

over the windows, time stopped. I told the painters

no earth tones. Slow Green was a no. Establish Mint

too white. Sometimes a cloud would knock,

a cloud would sing to me. That little bit

of time unhooked. The grounds.

Why would I leave when the trees out back

hadn’t yet lifted concrete into tongues, into petals.

Not yet the smell of ice thawing so far from the sea.

The world’s seed bank thawing in the Antarctic distance,

row by row, packet by packet. Hurry kills love,

you said, and so and so and

so this metal grate keeps the monkeys out.


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Megan Snyder-CampMegan Snyder-Camp
is the author of The Forest of Sure Things (2010, Tupelo), Wintering (2016, Tupelo) and The Gunnywolf (2016, Bear Star). She is the recipient of fellowships from Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Djerassi, the 4Culture Foundation, the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest, and Hugo House. Poems of hers have appeared on the PBS News Hour and in the Southern Review, Ecotone, The Antioch Review, Field, The Sewanee Review and elsewhere. She lives in Seattle.


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