How Do You Want the World to End?

Assume it is too late.
Assume the forest burns and turns to grass.
Assume the glaciers melt and turn to flood.
Assume the tundra thaws and turns to heat.
Do you want your last act to be a wall?
Do you want your last act to be a gun?
Do you want your last act to be a fall
Onto your bed, newsfeed tossed down,
Arm over your eyes: “Oh, it is too late!”

Grieve, of course, collapse,
Heave with the hurt,
The way you did for the first death you understood
As permanent.
But then get up.
We have all always been mortal,
But no court would accept that fact as justifying murder.
We have all always been mortal,
But we still hold a life well lived
As one that loved, and grew, until the end.

It is not too late
To welcome refugees,
Give them blankets, a bowl of soup, a bed, a hug.
It is not too late
To turn over lawns for food, and flowers,
To keep bees, gather honey,
Cook it all up in the street and ladle it
To the flooded-out, fire-chased, unemployed, downcast,
Teach each other songs, tell each other stories,
Of what was lost, and what can still be found.
It is not too late to shout out, “No!”
To the wall-builders, to the bulldozers,
To the ones who want to harvest fear for power,
And turn our final years into a war.

Even if there is only one apple left, growing on one sickly tree,
We can choose to fence it with electric wire,
Barricade ourselves with other deaths
Against the coming end.
Or we can share it out, see how far it will divide.
Perhaps, in the act, a seed will fall,
Take root,
Even if we do not last to feel its shade.

It is never too late
To grow the world we dream about,
Even if we cannot keep it
For longer than that one last miracle.
Keeping it was never part of the deal.

Image Joshua Stevens, NASA Earth Observatory

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