by Michele Battiste
the earth shifted uncomfortably
on its axis, its oceans swelling in defiance
of the tides. The moon hesitated in her
orbit, uncertain of the trajectory.
Dusk loitered above the horizon, radiating
a heat previously unknown to climate
scientists. Grasslands paused their sway,
rigid in the disturbance.
Old men flooded online markets, depleted
stocks of body paint and long strands
of rhinestones. Children rose from early bedtimes
to stroke their parents’ backs and guide them gently
to their rooms. Deer crept from the outskirts
of yards to huddle beneath open
windows and they could not be chased
away. Pale-winged moths fluttered by the dozen
in the blue light of screens and they could
not be chased away. Ghosts who crossed—meek
and obedient—crossed back with reckless
speed and they could not be chased away.
Gravity shrugged off certain burdensome
laws. Sound waves bent at undiscovered
angles. Matter sidestepped the customary
forms, and the vast unknown forces
of the universe let go one long-held collective breath
knowing exactly what will happen next.