Listen to this piece read by the author

The American experiment will end in 2030 she said
looking into the cards,
the charts, the stars, the mathematics of it, looking
into our palms, into all of our
palms, into the leaves at the
bottom of
the empty cup – searching its emptiness, its piles of dead
bodies or is it grass at the edge
of the field where the abandoned radio is crackling
at the winter-stilled waters, the winter-killed
will of God – in the new world now the old world –
staring quietly without emotion into the rotten meat
in the abandoned shops, moving aside with one easy gesture
the broken furniture, the fourth wall
& all
the private lives of the highrise apartments
exposed to the city then
wind. Ash everywhere. The sounds of
crying. Loud then
soft. It will not seem like it’s
right away, she said. What is the ‘it’ you refer to I
ask. Is it a place. Is it
an idea. A place is
an idea, an idea is for a while a place. Look
she says, there are
two fates. One is the idea one is the place.
And everywhere I see water.
As in blessing? As in baptism?
As in renewal? No,
as in the meadows disappear under the sea.
Then I heard a sound in the far
distance where her gaze rested. Are those
drums? Are we in the distant past or the distant
future I ask. The witches float in the air
above us. There are three. Of
course there are three. They have returned. No,
your ability to see them
has returned. Your
willingness. She asked for
cold wine and a railway schedule. It was time
she said, to move on, her gaze
looking out at the avenues and smaller streets,
at the silk dresses on the mannequins in
storefronts, all of them, across the
planet, the verandas poking out under the
hemlocks, violin strings crossing from
one century to another, although now I could hear they were
sirens all along,
invisible and desperate the warnings
in their rise & fall –
are you not listening
are you not listening –
yes those are sirens in the streets but here,
up close, in the recording of the
orchestra, the violin solo
has begun, it is screaming from one
ruined soul to another to beware, to pull the
bloody bodies from the invisible
where we are putting them daily –
no, every minute, no,
faster – we are o-
bliterating the one chance we had to be
good. There it is. The word. It brings us up
short. I notice she is gone. The
American project she had said, putting the words
out into the kitchen air with some measure of
kindness. It was not the only one, she sd, but it was
the last one.
After it, time ran out. We both looked out the window
still shocked by the beauty of the moonlight
in this Spring. Are we running out
of Springs I had wanted to
ask. Is the oxygen. Will there be no more open
channels. Can one not live
beneath. A little life in the
morning. Crazed police cars in the distance
but here this sunflower
which seeded itself,
seeded its mathematics & religion in our tiny
will do. The creaking
doorhandle we love,
the spider we help come back after each wind
by letting the hanging vine
which needs to be trimmed
just stay – just stay I whisper to myself –
stay under, don’t startle
time, the century
will go by – you can mind
your own business. You can finger the rolled up
leaf, feel its veins, you can watch the engines go by
over all the bridges
above you.
You can remain unassimilated. The
American project she said, will end
in 2030. Said find land away from here. Find
trustworthy water.
Have it in place
by then. I paid her.
I saw the bills go into the pocket
in her purse. Her shoes were so worn.
Her terror was nowhere. I looked at my garden.
It was dry here and there.
The shoots were starting up. Like a
dream they were poking through the rusty
I am spending my life, I thought. I am un-
prepared. It is running thru
my fingers. The wind is
still wild. My bones hurt sometimes
causing pain. It is not terror.
I feel for the cash in my pocket.
I do not have time to prepare.
I am comfortable.
Time passes and I am still here. I am
getting by. I replace one
calendar with another. I put seed out
for birds and sometimes one
comes. Once I saw two.
The spider is still here. I remember how geese
used to fly over. It meant something.
I remember when there were planes
& I could see them catch the light up there. What a
paradise. Some people had
enough. They were not happy but they were
able to come and go
at will.
They could leave
their houses. At any time. Anytime. And go
where they wished. Sometimes
we shared ideas. It
filled the time. We agreed or we did not.
They were not afraid. I was not
afraid. Summer would come soon.
It would get warmer. It might rain too hard.
When it flooded we worked to fix it.
We did as we saw fit.
Hi neighbour we would say across the fence
to the one tending their portion of the
It will be ok again soon,
one of us would say. We were allowed to
speak then. It was permitted.
One of us might dream. One of us might
despair. But we cleaned up the
debris together & the next day sun came
& we were able to sit in it
as long as our hearts desired.

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