At the End of the Earth
A girl sets down her tablet
and looks out from the five hundredth floor.
She marvels that the plush, green plain
was once a field of ice, that the far-off mountains
were encased in a glacier, that penguins,
not deer or wolves or the odd giraffe,
roamed this land.
Her mother glances up from her panel.
She looks inward at the wide corridors
lined with plants to freshen the air,
at the small animals that roam indoors.
Once they were meat; once they were pets,
trapped inside small, filthy boxes.
Once they were animals.
Perched on a chair, an ancestor
looks inside herself, remembering
how she came from sprawling suburbs,
festering deserts, and floods
to this end of the earth,
this Tower of Babel.
Beyond here are only stars,
space, heaven, hell,
but only for those who believe.
Brackish waters invade the coast,
even under sunny skies. Ground
sinks and dissolves. Streets become
streams, boulevards rivers, yards ponds
or lakes. Only parking lots
resist for a time. Jellyfish
and seaweed occupy the city.
Skyscrapers remain, their windows closed
against thick, rancid air. Houses
built on a human scale
float off, join the garbage
patch mustering in the ocean
where no one sees them.
Humans retreat, their new normal
in the mountains. Their children
build floating cities to stand
their ground amid rising tides
of water, seaweed, and trash.