by Daisy Bassen
It’s not the end of the world,
She always says, removing herself
From conversations like the sparrow
Alights from the branch, conclusively.
Except it must be, sometime, the end
Of the world. It has been already, only ask
The coelacanth, the survivor of thousands
Who were the last. This place is littered
With fossils and riverbeds run dry,
Shipwrecks, chests of coins in currency
That won’t buy a stick of gum,
As if you could still buy it that way, stacked
Like a Japanese sensu, slatted with ivory.
It’s the end of the world every day,
But who’d trouble herself to say anything?
No one will listen or worse, they will,
Cassandra all over again. Mockery, crude
Dirty, and for what? Being true doesn’t make it
The truth. The phone in her hand is a terror,
A tether, it’s simple as a spoon.
It’s the consequence of the sly devising
That lets me watch my grandmother flickering
As a young girl, kissing her mother good morning.
She played the upright piano like the one in my house.
A world that should begin to be beyond
Remembering. The streets now are filled
With people walking, their ears stuffed like olives,
Listening, listening. Perhaps they will grow
A third eyelid, like a lizard, to let them see
What they hear. We’re not sure what comes next
But it will. We won’t. My grandmother’s hands
Played a scale, I recognize that; I know the interval
Of the notes, how to sing it, how it climbs away.
* * * * *
Daisy Bassen is a poet and practicing physician who graduated from Princeton University’s Creative Writing Program and completed her medical training at The University of Rochester and Brown. Her work has been published in Oberon, McSweeney’s, and PANK among other journals. She was the winner of the So to Speak 2019 Poetry Contest, the 2019 ILDS White Mice Contest and the 2020 Beullah Rose Poetry Prize. She was doubly nominated for the 2019 Best of the Net Anthology and for a 2019 and 2020 Pushcart Prize. She lives in Rhode Island with her family.