The world is forever ending,
every generation chasing the same
catastrophes and atrocities their parents
learned before them. Migrating in search
of herds of hatred, anger, and fear to feed upon.
But for each inky night that swallows up hope,
there is a woman who stands up,
though her soul is broken,
and crosses the room to light a fire
and places a potato in a pot
or the very last grains of rice,
because stomachs must be fed
and laundry doesn’t care for cataclysm.
A woman who, in her grandad’s pickup truck,
her forehead resting against one chapped hand
as she mouths the music on the radio,
drives to the bank for the loan,
because the chemo won’t pay for itself.
A woman who rises early for work at the factory
and pins a yellow Star of David on her coat,
because the rent is due, and it’s been almost a month now
since they took father and Misha away.
A woman who has watched a thousand men
ascend the ladder ahead of her, but who shows up,
measures her smiles and speaks calmly, firmly,
because her message is important and must not be dismissed.
A woman who weeps and arranges the shattered
pieces of her heart into the shape of a poem
to send out into the crumbling world,
because somewhere in the desolation
are the ears of others listening for signs they’re not alone.
A woman who leans over the cradle of an infant
she did not birth and will not raise,
but who she will pick up and comfort and feed,
becoming for only a moment a mother
in place of the mother who didn’t make it through the night.
A birthright, this numb inertia
that keeps life slowly wading forward
through the scalding lava of destruction
as the world ends