Five Poems from Notes on the End of the World

 

girl_in_the_gas_mask_by_zachcherry

DAY 6

It is no dream to live in a house
with blown out windows and molting snakes.

Any child’s drawing would tell you so: 
the driveway, the garden, the smoking chimney.

I sleep with a pistol between my legs so often 
that any man would be a soft nuisance.  

This quiet is the quiet of watching a living thing
die, when you hit yourself for having believed the heart 
could ever resemble a red bird.  

I would give up all of my memories of trains
if one passed through the foothills as I watched.

All to say, there is enough emptiness to be buried
wherever the weathervane stops.  
There is enough emptiness to feel holy.  

At night, the wind upsets the shutters, the shingles.
And although I knew a bucket of morphine 
and a glass of scotch would kill it, 
I killed it. 



DAY 7

Somehow, we’ve all been given the same fate,
which means our lives are ordinary.

I can’t come to terms with the fact that the astronaut who stood on the moon 
and compared the earth to his pregnant wife’s stomach
will die in the same dismal flames as the man who is too large to leave his house
without removing the roof and hiring a crane.  

I could have spent years in bed 
listening to books on tape and masturbating
until I fractured my wrists.

I could have found the similarities 
between fractures and fractals and applied the math 
to the unsolvable equation of loss.

I could have let my wrists heal crooked, waited 
to find a man who loved acute angles over obtuse.  

He would love how slivered my world is,
explaining that some spaces are fixed,
that he loved me enough to create a symbol
to stand for me.

I have spent years trying to be more 
industrious than the bees.

Queen, you have no separate savior.  
Honey is no longer a reasonable bribe.

Haven’t you heard?
Our god is diabetic. 
Arthritic.
Hypoallergenic.

Give god a reason, he’ll break out in hives.



DAY 8


If I stay in one place long enough, 
I will become overgrown with moss.

This is not a curse.

I will establish an address
that defines my body in terms
of coordinates on a map.

I can finally give up 
figuring out who I am.

When the moss is gone 
and my body longs for the same 
green comfort, it will expel enough 
negative desire to create a drought.  

The hard wind comes 
in the cracks of the windows 
like Tom Waits singing gospel songs.

You pour the last of your milk
over the sill.

Each small sacrifice is rewarded 
with backstage passes to heaven.

The moss is gone and a strict limitation 
has been put on water usage in the home.

This is how it goes: every loss 
becomes a need.  

No problem.

I have enough pictures of pistols in the mouth 
to make my children cry me green.



DAY 9

When I come home, my husband says
I think I married a witch.

He’s watching old movies on the old movie channel,
and I can’t blame him for trying to shove his life 
into a simple story that dogs, in their colorblindness, 
can understand.

When the world ends, I will assume what he said is true.
That my skin is made of magic, that I can turn any tragedy
into a swan.

This means that when the sky is a black tumor
that is hungry for more than a solitary breast,
I will turn it into licorice. 

Old men and women will eat through it and say
Dear childhood, you are loyal, you have never left us.
 
This means when the earth cracks open and tries
to swallow us like pills, I will hypnotize it into thinking
people are made of arsenic and bleach until it stops.

My husband tells me I am a combination
of Veronica Lake and Clara Bow, which means
I am in love with whiskey and faulty hearts, 
that I do not fear death any more than I fear
rocking horses and ringlets.

When the world ends, I will be trying to turn
light bulbs into hollow stars.

When the world ends, I will be curling my hair
with my husband’s burning hands.

I will be on the back of a horse as if I am riding
towards some sort of ending. 



DAY 10

We’ve been invited to a party in 1945.  

Apparently, this is what happens when time announces its ending: 
its labyrinth walls crumble.
It becomes limitless, navigable space. 

We can walk backwards to the days we were born. 
With a seismograph, we can see how little the world moved.  

We can stand next to last year as if we were all people 
in line waiting to send care packages to strangers.  

As for the party,
we need something to wear. 

We need to look real.

I must cinch my waist enough 
that you can wrap your thumb and forefinger around it.

You need a single-breasted coat and a red-breasted robin 
to teach you how to be the last man singing
It’s Been a Long, Long Time.

We will be so precious that we will spend the evening 
touching each other’s faces and drawing up plans 
to build a home in the suburbs out of white picket 
synonyms for affection.  

In 1945, the women will be drunk in soft light.
The men will unzip their wives’ dresses 
as if they are dismantling a bomb,
touch their pale backs as if they are full of land
mines.  

We will be the only ones not dancing 
when they announce the war is over.

When they ask us how we could cry and shatter
our plates after hearing such news, we tell them
We love war, we love lipstick, we love pocket squares 
and suffering. We would do anything for more
missiles, more measles, more mourning.
Sweetheart, when it’s over, it’s over.  
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About Meghan Privitello

Meghan Privitello is the author of A New Language for Falling Out of Love (YesYes Books, 2015) and the forthcoming chapbook Notes on the End of the World (Black Lawrence Press, 2016). View all posts by Meghan Privitello

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