cover image To 2040

To 2040

Jorie Graham. Copper Canyon, $25 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-55659-677-3

Graham ([To] The Last [Be] Human) stuns with this end-of-life-as-we-know-it guide for those who may need to prepare for the last, ethereal blows; “The earth says/ it is time. Everyone checks their watch./ Your destination is in sight. Be/ ready. Brace.” Settings range from “Rocks// burning in the/ distance. Then distance/ burning” to medical facilities and domestic spaces where a quince branch blooms in a vase. The book inhabits the shape-shifting grammar of the future perfect: “Did we// survive at the end/ of this story, I ask/ the sun. I give up/ on tenses here.” The end is imagined and undone again: “I am spending my life, I thought. I am un-/ prepared. It is running thru/ my fingers. The wind is/ still wild. My bones hurt sometimes/ causing pain. It is not terror./ I feel for the cash in my pocket./ I do not have time to prepare.” At one point, the poet is addressed by the sun, who first encourages, “Be there, as long as you can,// take it, be there/ as I rise”—and finally condescends, “But how/ I admired yr/ breathing... The end is/ a hard thing to// comprehend. You did not /comprehend it.” This is a rare gift: an ardent and pitiless anthem to a crazed, razed world. (Apr.)