The Origin of Species

Sarah Ghazal Ali

Passenger pigeon & eons

are barreling forward. Before the wedding,

our graves pre-purchased, vanishing a gift

you say we should try to savor.

Two children, should we have them,

we’ve named ahead of time

for the freed slave who called the adhan

& a king who spoke the language

of every creature, animal or jinn.

Should we have them?

There are still those who remember

when our creekside apartment

was an ecotone, oakbrush unchewed

by goats who today crowd my window,

trimming the reach of wildfires

we've come to expect. Sleep

is a minor death, a rehearsal in believing

in some certain after. The redwoods,

keeping watch or score. Who was the last

among us to see prophets in a dream?

Mine long since privatized, mausoleums

of oft-polished bones, pinned wings

with a surmised sense of sky.

The cost of faith is the molting of memory.

Years from now, earth all but effigy,

the anthropologists will find us,

our pixel-laden grins ossified

behind glass. A tragedy began.

A tragedy is beginning.

When will the tragedy begin?

Sarah Ghazal Ali is the author of Theophanies, selected as the Editors' Choice for the 2022 Alice James Award and forthcoming with Alice James Books in January 2024.
Originally published:
March 1, 2023


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