The Gift Shop at the End of the World
by Grace Wagner
Buy a bucket of fresh water to remember
the aquifer—last one in the world. Buy a pangolin
and keep it
balanced on your shoulder; it’s the last
of its kind. Buy
the last living half of the Great Barrier Reef,
put it in a bottle, and cork it tight—this is your last
chance to see it.
Last chance, folks, get the ice cores while you can
as the boreal forests
Buy the last hamburger in the world and serve it
with a monoculture and ketchup. Buy all
you can use, store their oxygen
in glass tubes for breathing later. This is it, folks, the end
of the world, and we’re your last stop
Remember the bees? Buy a box of bees,
will be important after the collapse
of the market economy, and these are the last bees
around. The era of cheap food ends today,
buy all that you’ll need
for the rest of your life, however long
that proves to be.
Buy species by the dozen, by the hundred,
they’ll all be gone—
the background rate is nearly 200 species a day
Buy the last memories of your childhood
outside. Buy the feeling
of jumping in puddles and eating blackberries
off the vine.
Buy fingers stained purple. Buy the feeling
of having more than you can
Buy the feeling of consumption,
the comfort of it,
the old routine of it. Buy the feeling of a storm
that only soaks you through, leaves you shivering
Buy old postcards of tigers, deer, and elephants—
are relics now.
Buy the scent of rain in the desert—
will your children remember rain?
I will give you the stars for free.
We all need to look up
to the heavens with hope. Buy hope.
Hope is an ocean. Buy the last square foot of it
not spangled with trash.
Buy capitalism—limited time offer!
(What happens to the store when no one has anything left
to buy or sell?) Buy selling out.
Buy the present at the cost of the future.
Buy something to remember
Earth by. Buy something that says you were here.
Here we are at the end of the world. Once you exit
through the gift shop there’s no coming back.
The snow leopard waits at the door, wanting
to be let out. The black rhinoceros paces a path
through the grass. Orcas carry their dead
across oceans, but what does that mean to us?
There is no way to say goodbye.
So with whatever you’ve got left, buy a little