Dawn 2040

by Jorie Graham

Jorie Graham

These tiny sounds
you think you hear
in the house

is someone awake, is
someone alive. You
turn around. Just
now, you hear

yourself say. I know
what finished is.
I know the just
now & then the just

gone. I am alive.
Then it is the sun
arriving, rising
just above the edge

of yr turning, my
earth. It’s touching my
shoulder. You
it makes me feel,

you. Are you there.
In this world now, this
is the last
moment in which

we can breathe
normally. Normally I say
to myself.
The scrub oaks

are dying
back. The white sky
arrives, whitening
further. Did we

survive at the end
of this story, I ask
the sun. I give up on
tenses here. What were

the things we called
freedoms, I
ask. But the sun
as it rises is touching

everything less and less
tenderly, reaching
no matter how u

hide, no water
anywhere—though here, listen,
I make it
for you—drip drip—

as I admire yr breathing
wherever u are now
reading this. Inhale.
Are you still there

the sun says to me
as I hide on this
page. Be there.
As long as you can

take it, be there
as I rise. The lifting
groundmist now
is the last moment,

the very last, in which

you can breathe. Soon—
now actually—
you must hide
from me. You. You

beautiful thing, you
human, yr lungs
I can crush with one
inadvertent in-

halation. But how
I admired yr
breathing, yr so few
years, how u took them

to heart and believed in
things to the
end. The end is
a hard thing to

comprehend. You
did not
comprehend it. Now go,
I must widen

across the fields,

the cicadas will soon
begin in unison
the song of unison
till u can hear no more

variation, no rise or
fall. Can I live please
in this unchanging sound, I
ask, as we enter further

into yr dayrise.
What was that
just flew over. What else is
in here. I sit as quietly

as breathing
permits. All’s
hum & insect
thread. Nothing un-

locks. Yes there’s burning
wind sometimes, all
is building towards
sand’s hard thought, nothing will

change its mind
this dune of the future
as it moves
towards us

here where we can for now
still hide. You there,
wondering what to do with
yr day,

yawning as you wake
from dream,
I can almost make you out
in yr brightening

morning-light. You there. Wake up. But
nobody’s here,
just the earth
revolving, in-

exhaustible, without

purpose, in which
from moment to
even now

change gathers,
inception gathers, & variation, & pro-
And all is. All is.

Do you remember.

Last updated April 26, 2023