dance apocalyptic – Ayame Whitfield ’21

one: nuclear war


we seal ourselves in iron coffins deep

below the earth and call ourselves lucky

to not be the incinerated, the shelterless

with their shadows blasted from

their bodies. you’re painting the

bunker ceiling blue, remembering distance

and finding only walls. i count cans of

beans and tuna, mark off another day

under june’s calico kitten. it’s a cat-astrophe,

the calendar tells me. you’re drawing the

sun now, a pale hole in the sky, paint

bleeding and bleeding: you’re too impatient

to let it dry.

two: extraterrestrials


it’s just like a shitty sci-fi movie,

you tell me. we’re miles deep in

the forest, maine or quebec, and

the emergency radio has only sung static

for the past three days. who would

have thought, you say, except everyone

expected this. they track us by our

body heat, our scent. they come in ships

white as lightning, shattering

the sky. it’s just us they want;

the black-eyed squirrels and

dusty sparrows stay untouched

in the cedar-shadows.

we keep moving.


three: climate change


the dead ocean glares in the sunlight,

blind and acidic. i pick seashells from

the sand, offer the knives of their broken

edges to you. it’s long dead, whatever

once made a home here. the wreckage

of our past comes ashore with the salt:

bottle caps, a single blue rain boot, a baby doll

head with one eye closed. the sea licks her

solemn hunger out over the beaches

washed pale by noon.


four: pandemic


when they close the borders and

ground all the airplanes, i take

the breathing mask off and kiss you.

it’s been weeks without skin-touch,

sterile weeks of failed quarantines and

news reports and hazy prayers

rising from the church across the street

through the bell-tolled air.

you’re hot with fever, less terror

than tremble: just days left, but it’s

more burning than it’s worth to

let you die untouched.