Published on Academy of American Poets (

I Don’t Know What Will Kill Us First: The Race War or What We’ve Done to the Earth

so I count my hopes: the bumblebees
are making a comeback, one snug tight
in a purple flower I passed to get to you;

your favorite color is purple but Prince’s
was orange & we both find this hard to believe;
today the park is green, we take grass for granted

the leaves chuckle around us; behind
your head a butterfly rests on a tree; it’s been
there our whole conversation; by my old apartment

was a butterfly sanctuary where I would read
& two little girls would sit next to me; you caught
a butterfly once but didn’t know what to feed it

so you trapped it in a jar & gave it to a girl
you liked. I asked if it died. you say you like
to think it lived a long life. yes, it lived a long life.


Copyright © 2019 by Fatimah Asghar. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 8, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I think about the ways that our world feels unsustainable—some of the most pressing ways being the race war that always feels like it’s boiling right under the surface, and climate change/disaster. This poem is about a day that I got lost in a conversation with a friend, and it felt like things slowed down around me, and I was able to put those fears aside and just appreciate what was around me. And how hopeful that is, getting lost in the words and presence of someone you love, having them put a pause on the impending doom that seems right around the corner at all times.”
Fatimah Asghar


Fatimah Asghar

Fatimah Asghar is the author of the full-length collection If They Come For Us (Random House, 2018) and the chapbook After (YesYes Books, 2015)

Date Published: 2019-05-08

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