Saturday, May 21, 2011

End of the world

With prophesies of rapture capturing the attention of many this weekend, I've resurrected "End of the world" from my archives. Inspired by an article in the West Australian, "End of the world" won the 1992 Tom Collins Poetry Prize and appeared in Shorelines: three poets. Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1995.

End of the world

Thousands of South Koreans spent yesterday preparing for the end of the world.
The West Australian, 29 October 1992

She was going to Heaven with her suitcase.

Before the scheduled departure,
she’d been to an abortion clinic.
The foetus had to go –
it had a potential for submitting to gravity.
She’d left a cluster of cells
in a bucket by the door
for the architects of flood and famine
to collect on credit for Christ.

Before midnight, she’d cleansed her skin
curled her hair, shaved down from her legs –
paying detail to the area around her ankles
from where Mercury’s wings would sprout –
ironed her halter-neck dress so her shoulder blades
would be bared for the promised explosion of feathers.

She bled still, wondered if rapture
excluded sanitary precautions.
Waited for midnight,
the pain in her pelvis dulling over time.
She’d left food out for the cat,
fed the dog for the final time,
left the last of the supper dishes
soaking in the sink.

Her strong-box brimmed with the word of God
but she’s seen the painstaking hands of time
overtake midnight twice,
checked her diary and the stages of the moon.
She’d got that part wrong once before
but does rhythm equate with rapture,
with the riot police outside her house,
with a foetus in a galvanised pail.

Beyond the kitchen window,
with its appliquéd café curtains
and wind chimes,
the horrors of the world
have overtaken ecstasy.
In Seoul, an angel is bleeding
over the soft blossom of singing pinions
budding from her ankles.