Maple Street, Smalltown, Ohio. Sunday afternoon, a regular sitting room, an urgent news broadcast. Doom. And then nothing.
Electricity lingers briefly, like a soul, until there is only the grey bulge of the screen and its putrid reflection. A man and woman on the sofa crawling with roses shift towards each other. Their fingers entwine and grapple.
Outside the blades of grass reach unseen towards the noonday sun. An abandoned lawnmower is silent as a stick insect. There is the sound of an ignition clicking. The milky wails of a child. Then suddenly, on the side walk, running. The aeroplanes, purified by the Midwestern sky, have arrived in a shining haze of noise, with nobody on them. They fill the world like a scientific vision.
There is knocking, humble and wooden, at the door. The man and woman stand and retreat, hiding in the aircrafts’ screaming. The man fumbles for a flash light in the bureau by the stairs. Takes his wife’s hand. They descend to the cellar, deaf to the protests of the timber steps and the patent leather of the man’s shoes, black and vitreous.
Underground, ghosted by the torchlight, sweat melts like wax from their skin. Then the man drops the flashlight. The darkness is inscrutable. They hear the batteries extrude onto the concrete floor and roll, almost like marbles.
Until something, or somebody, stops them.
39.0: JACKPOT!Guest poetry editor: Samuel Wagan Watson
Release date: 1 August 2012
Index of poems
Featured artist: Queenie Chan