Kimberly Dawn Stuart is an MFA candidate at Syracuse University. Her work has appeared in Rust + Moth, Louisiana Literature, and Anthropocene, among others.
During the apocalypse, the birds will feel it first.
They will grow dizzy mid-migration,
then the seas will screech still. Early-risers will get lost
mid-jog, mid-dog walk. When we are all left
floundering, without careers or working clocks,
and our lives are forced simple,
when chores have bundled themselves up
in jersey sheets and driven in cars to the river’s edge
to watch as the earth collapses,
as it sputters and jerks to a complete stop,
and there are no more drive-thrus,
no more bananas to buy, no more
religion and need,
the women of my family will eat together.
They will heap rice into mountains,
will crack eggs into daylight.
They will tease while they work.
They are good at coaxing laughter
from the scared, feral chests of their sons.
Outside of this house, their voices congeal into a hum.
This is how they have always mourned
the loss of millions.
This is how they stir in your bowl
all your tribulations,
a little sugar,
all the joy left to find.
Here is the wilderness in their creation.
Here are their still-soft hands.
You will not know you are in their lullaby.
Out of their singing, the world begins