O Earth: An Estrangement in Five Parts

2:36 pm
two children waken     say they’re mine

like a thief I try to pocket

my apocalypse scenes


the children want the world

and I assure them they can have it

I just have to find my sunglasses

can’t see the planet anymore without them

but someone has sat on my only pair

the children say it was me


and why wouldn’t it be     naked-eyed

I reel them into the brightness


3:14 pm
we reach a green

a place to mock-race     over fake grass

forget the hem of fences

till it stops us


in a stream once

I pressed on wet leaves

my foot sunk into a dead deer underneath


no way to know

till my foot was in its ribs

how the hidden would get hold of me


4:03 pm
I find a tree     cower beneath it

consider how much of the lonely

I lived along that creek was meanness

people spitting tobacco

into library books     setting fire

to the gas-soaked nest of a bird


we drove past the forest more

than we entered it     hoping against

the dart of an animal larger than our fathers

people crashed that way     a bear emerging

ravenous after the snow


7:10 pm
I surrender     declare the sun irrelevant

pull the shades against it     let the tub run

till it warms     while someone else’s child

stares thirsty at a dirty cup     while the lakes

of Ohio     while I align all these inanimate eyes

touch the plush arms of a stuffed cat as if

it were holy

this goat and Paddington     without which

my beloveds refuse to sleep


7:41 pm
Before the reckoning I suck in

some Twitter and filtered air

then descend to them     reenter the heat

and they are there     writhing

the blind gods of the compost bin

who multiply so divinely

and who I have dreamed of

wriggling inside me     worming

their acropolis into my softer parts


as they unmake me

I waken unredeemed


Cover of TLR's "Fight" issue
Cover Art by Fazal Sheikh. Used by permission of the artist: courtesy Pace/Macgill Gallery.

Idra Novey is the author of the novel Ways To Disappear. Her poetry collection Exit, Civilian was selected for the 2011 National Poetry Series.

“O Earth: An Estrangement in Five Parts” originally appeared in FIGHT (TLR, Spring 2016)