What lightning strike
what fireball, what catastrophe
are you scanning for so avidly
in these bad times?
What part of yourself
you’re afraid even to speak of
goes muttering under the surface of your mind
how some apocalypse
would be kinder than this slow choking
in our own stupidity?
And what will we leave? – another
comforting question. What far future
archaeologist from a new star
will extrapolate our culture from these
ski boots and coffee-capsules and
wonder at our poisoning
the very waters under the earth?
Or ask why it consoles us less
to believe we will have cancelled ourselves
at present rates
before the atmosphere boils away
and into space: that rainfall
will continue, plate tectonics will continue
to grid us away, and cover up
our isotope trace.
– some bacterium in a cockroach gut
possibly – will grow up to be
Life on Earth in a distant era
and will ask itself
what lightning strike
what fireball, what catastrophe set
the chain of events in slow motion
till they gave rise to it, as we
ask ourselves now.
Judith Taylor lives and works in Aberdeen. Her poetry has been published widely in magazines, and in two pamphlet collections – Earthlight (2006) and Local Colour (2010). Her first full-length collection, Not in Nightingale Country, will be published in Autumn 2017 by Red Squirrel Press. http://sometimesjudy.co.uk/