ONLY THE SUN
Who will notice when this leaf is gone?
It is only a leaf,
tiny, trembling, green; tomorrow’s auburn.
No one will know. Only the bird will know.
Who will notice when this love is gone?
It is only a love,
a ghost thing with no edges or shape.
No one will know. Only I will know.
Who will notice when this song is gone?
It is only a song,
one sound set beside another like a pair of shoes.
No one will know. Only we will know.
Who will notice when the sun is gone?
It is only a sun,
a hole of gold burned in an endless sky.
No one will know. Only the dark will know.
I wake up with a protest sign on my chest
in my own bed, no chanters or marchers near.
I wake up to the sound of the ocean rattling
like paper unfolding, the clear voices of unseen birds.
I wake up in a fast-moving vehicle on a highway--
sun choosing the passenger side, the green blurred
trees an anonymous crowd, a hum of uncertainty.
I wake up to the sound of people arguing. I wake up
already peeing into a toilet; the mirror has aged me.
I wake up in an apartment I used to rent
years ago, though the wallpaper has changed
and I can’t be sure I’m not a ghost. Somehow
the same things propel me forward.
I wake up to the small hole a cigarette makes,
a punctuation mark in someone else’s turmoil.
The sandy snake of smoke climbs the wall.
I wake up on a bus between countries
and for a minute I’ve forgotten my own name,
just a dry mouth and a body, a set of eyes.
I wake up to the blind gray face of a mountain;
though I have never gone mountain climbing
I’m wearing the boots for it. I stretch, look around.
It appears I have all the equipment and it’s a new day.
Emily Schultz will publish her newest novel, Little Threats, in fall 2020 with GP Putnam’s Sons. Her novel, The Blondes, released in Canada with Doubleday, in the U.S. with Picador, in France with Editions Alto and Editions Asphalte. Named a Best Book of 2015 by NPR and Kirkus, it recently became a scripted podcast starring Madeline Zima. Her poems have appeared in
Minola Review, rust + moth, Humber Literary Review, and Taddle Creek.
Watch Your Head is an online anthology of creative works devoted to the climate crisis and climate justice.
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