Dawn 2040

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.

Jorie Graham is the author of fifteen collections of poetry, including To 2040, forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in 2023. She teaches at Harvard University.
Originally published:
October 26, 2022


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