Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Poetry Tuesday: "Eschatology"

I am dreaming of mushroom clouds again.  I really did have a nuclear war dream, a looming threat and time to get indoors kind of dream.  We were in a wintry landscape, not snowy, but dead.  My college roommate was there, along with younger versions of my parents, and some little children travelling with my college roommate.  We were trying to get the children inside before the nuclear strike happened.  We were filling up the water bottles while we still had water.

No mystery about where that dream comes from.  The update of North Korea's progress on making a nuclear weapon seemed more dire last week.  The new administration seems like one that might blunder into nuclear trouble before it can pull back.

Well we've been here before--perhaps in a worse space, in past decades.  And here we are, no apocalypse come to solve the problem of choosing a major.  I remember telling a class of students about my college era nuclear fears, and they looked at me as if I was deranged.  I said, "Never count on the apocalypse"--and later, while they worked on their essays, I worked on a poem, which later was published in The Powhatan Review.

And before I leave us with the poem, can I just remember how much I once loved this word?  I still do, but it's like a college roommate, with whom I once had daily tea and conversation, but we've now moved to different parts of the continent (which is true of the college roommate who is coming to visit on her way back from the women's march on Washington).

I loved it in its modern, dystopian connotation and its more ancient, Greek connotation.  I love those passages of the Bible that warn us of the end, although Revelation is my least favorite book.

But it's been awhile since I used that word.  I fear it may be coming back to live with me now.


Do not fear the apocalypse.
There are worse things than to be consumed
by the conflagration that claims
a generation. At least you know your part in history.

Do not count on the apocalypse.
You may be one of the lucky ones,
escaping genocide, only to face the oblivion
of old age, the greatest war criminal of all.

Do not embrace the apocalypse.
Cling stubbornly to the promise of resurrection.
Believe that even after nuclear winter,
Spring will thaw the ground.

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