by Robert McDonald
I’ve almost given up on belief in a world beyond this one; no angels or spirits
or realm of shadow, no blessed ache of golden afterlife. Science
tells us that trees in a forest may talk with other trees, but their language
is based on chains of molecules, strands of mycelium, droplets
of water, the trees merely trees and likewise the ground, and the gravestones.
No one I love wishes to touch me from beyond this life, through drapery
made of longing and thought. Outside of myself and beyond the sky, the universe stretches farther and wider than my mind can imagine. It’s a comfort,
then, to remember: I am not the center on any map. And the earth is molten under my feet, the miles below me made of up fire and more fire, leftover
heat from Earth’s first morning. Our winter in Chicago? Just a tilt of the planet
and some currents of air. The crows who flap from one oak
to another, all the people who boarded at Ravenswood Station, going north,
the billion cinders under the train’s steel tracks, all of us
meant to be clouds of atoms again, set to burn in new conflagrations.
We do possess eternity. Not even ghosts enough to know
Robert McDonald lives in Chicago, where he works at an independent bookstore. His work has appeared in a wide variety of journals, including Columbia Poetry Review, Anacapa Review, Jabberwock Review, Pank, Unbroken, and Southern Poetry Review. With Kathie Bergquist, he is the author of A Field Guide to Gay and Lesbian Chicago.
You can find Robert on Instagram: @robmcwriter.