There were still songbirds then
nesting in hackberry trees
and a butterfly named Question.
I remember ivy trembling
at the vanishing point of your throat.
Then the timelines crashed.
California split into an archipelago.
Orchards withered under blooms of ash.
Now there is no nectar. No rotten fruit.
The air is quiet.
Once, in Russia,
a population of hooded crows,
transported them 500 miles
westward. Winter came.
They never caught up with their flock.
With crusts of calcified algae
we catalogue each day lost:
hot thermals, cirrus vaults,
fistfuls of warblers hurtling into dark.
There was no sound to the forgetting.
We knew the heart would implode
before the breath and lungs collapsed.
That the world would end in snow,
an old woman walking alone,
empty birdcage strapped to her back.
Originally published in Past Simple. Copyright © 2016 by Jennifer Foerster. Used with the permission of the author.