Photo by Daria Shevtsova

                                                goes on.

The cats still demand their food,
the garbage trucks still rumble by,
your throat still craves cold liquids.
You are certain– 
certain—you have heard a bird.

It’s not normal. God. No.
Nothing ever will be again.
Yet everything will always be.

That’s possibly 
the worst.

You can resist, of course:
demand that the earth pause its unsteady spin,
tell your stomach you need no food,
your skin you need no water.
At least not for the next few days.
A week, perhaps. A month. A year.
You are certain–
certain—you have heard a bird.

That’s possibly 
the worst.

You can avoid, of course:
turn your attention to other things.
Pizza. Painting. That new HBO show
no one will shut up about.
(God, that show is so different now.)
You are certain–
certain—you have heard a bird.

You can forget, of course:
We all do. The rawness
in your gut can slink away
before it returns through your throat.
Not everything need be
a reminder, a memory—
God, those fucking birds.

Not everything.
So much will never change.
So much will remain—
the sun, the stars, the unceasing wind,
the people shifting heedlessly.

Perhaps that is the worst.

The birds soar against the setting sun.
Blood pounds against your chest. 
You have memories to forget.
That—yes, that—is the worst.

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Mari Ness
Mari Ness worships chocolate, words and music, in no particular order. Her work has also appeared in, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Uncanny, Nightmare, Strange Horizons, and multiple other publications. Her poetry novella, Through Immortal Shadows Singing, which deals in part with enduring a ten-year siege, is available from Papaveria Press. She lives in central Florida.