"the world today's a dangerous place"
Somehow, the roly-polies missed the news—
they keep on moving earth beneath our feet.
I want to tell them that the world is ending,
wake them from their joy. I want to ask
them why they keep on working
toiling, turning the debris of winter
into spring if spring may never bloom.
I want to whisper in their little ears
that the world today’s a dangerous place,
to go home to their dens, to ride this season
of death out underneath a mask of earth.
The grackles seem oblivious as well
clustering on power lines together
as sunlight seeps into the morning sky
and brings them back to life. The doves are mourning
like they always do. The mockingbirds,
who have a so much to grieve, rebuild a nest
that tumbled to ground in last night’s storm.
I want to ask them why they even bother.
The love grass keeps on swaying, growing, taking
over my unkept lawn. It clenches dirt
in its fists of roots and spreads and spreads
like a yawn or sneeze or cough. The dew
this morning doesn’t know, or if it does
it still sparkles, pearls on blades of grass.
I want to tell the old mesquite tree
before she bursts in yellow blooms again.
and I want to tell the beetles, the mosquitos,
the flies, the mushrooms at my feet, the stones,
though maybe they’ve seen worse than this before
in their timeless lives. And when they learn,
as I have, that our world is ending soon,
the roly-polies keep on moving earth—
as they always have for centuries,
making the world go round and round and round
as they bring it back to life again.
Katherine Hoerth is the author of five poetry collections, including the forthcoming Flare Stacks in Full Bloom (Texas Review Press, 2022). She is the recipient of the 2021 Poetry of the Plains Prize from North Dakota State University Press and the 2015 Helen C. Smith Prize from the Texas Institute of Letters for the best book of poetry in Texas. Her work has been published in numerous literary magazines including Literary Imagination (Oxford University Press), Valparaiso Review, and Southwestern American Literature. She is an assistant professor at Lamar University and editor of Lamar University Literary Press.