Carmen Giménez, a professor of English at Virginia Tech, is the author of six books, including Milk and Filth, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Be Recorder, which was short-listed for the National Book Award and PEN Open Book Award. This poem comes from a collection-in-progress called Nostalgia Has Such a Short Half-Life, which considers pop culture in conjunction with the end of the world.
It’s the end of the world and I’m barely ready for that,
though grateful I’m old enough to miss Miami
going underwater and a 130-degree October day
in Fraser, Colorado. Every generation thinks it’s the end
of the world, which is why there’s a whole history of end-
of-the-world cults, but now is truly the end
of the world, if only now that Earth is what it is.
I don’t hate when people say it is what it is because
they are only stating a fundamental truism that means the car
could break down or a spleen could burst or the soufflé
could fall and it is fixed and inescapable: the present tense (is)
meaning the event is its own event horizon.
Of course, the end of Earth isn’t soufflés; the end
is beyond what we can imagine, which is
why end-of-the-world cults are silly, not just because
someone thinks they have a direct line to a force who
provides them with a date as if it were as quotidian
as the time a train arrives, but also because this world’s end
will stretch over months and years and stages of calamities
and slow-motion disasters. I could start a cult immediately
and say the end is in fact happening now, today. Wait with me
on a 10-acre farm where we’ll make bread and grow turnips,
or play music around bonfires until we die alongside the Earth,
a slow painful death, unfortunately, but it is what it is.
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