The Last Days by Jayne Pupek

We were all targets then, even without knowing
what was bearing down on us. At first,
the only signs we noticed: the way
the stars dimmed and the hills
paled, how everything turned
celery green. The bark shed from trees
like sunburned skin. Overhead,
the sky went from blue to gunmetal gray,
the clouds hardened like pieces of agate.
The sulphur smell permeated our hair
and clothes, the first layers of our skin.
The veins running through our bodies
thickened and swelled as if
our blood had congealed like plastic.
We had never been so cold or lonely.
Hunger was an ugly thing.
We remembered the field where we’d
played as children, and later embraced
as lovers, consumed by the plains
and recesses that made our bodies new.
We go there now, stepping over the dead
and dying. We make our way along
the ash-covered slope until we find again
the open cistern holding the last clean rain.
Against our losses, it is memory that sustains us:
once upon a time, we were minnows
circling each other’s bodies in a shallow pool.


Date: 2008

By: Jayne Pupek (1962-2010)

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