Runcible Spoon

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Reading About the End of the World


I sit drinking coffee at this table in the sun.

All day I’ve been reading stories in a book

about the end of the world.

In one, insects rise against humankind,

in another, some advanced alien civilization

shuts down the computer simulation

that is our universe.

There’s a story about trees dying,

and one about oceans engulfing the earth.

In one the women kill all the men,

then cooperate to weave a peaceful new world.

For centuries forests around them grow,

but then one after another, the women disappear.

Some hear beautiful songs, others

only the chattering of apes in high branches.

We never find out why, or where they’ve gone,

and the final page shimmers with tears.

By now it is late, and my coffee is gone.

I’d order another, but my nerves are jangled,

my brain floating somewhere above my head.

It’s starting to rain. When I stand to go,

my knees buckle and I fall back into the metal chair.

Streetlights blink on, and the café fills with the nighttime crowd.

I recall a story about a storm that rose over the mountains

near a quiet town, leaving thousands drenched and broken among the reeds.