By Hayden Carruth, from “The Beginning of the End,” a sequence of poems published posthumously in the Fall 2009 issue of The Sewanee Review. Carruth’s “Notes on Emphysema” appeared in the October 2001 issue of Harper’s Magazine.
Here we are, my dears, the autumn of twenty-o-five.
And it’s very strange. The sultry summer lingers
Into October; the foliage that by now was always
Bright is drab and withered; and we are far
Too dry, except where hurricanes rage and floods
Carry off our houses. Is this then our last
Autumn? The radio is insisting, “Log on, log on.”
And then the television is pleading, “Log on now.”
And signs and portents are everywhere, although
They are bewildering, because no one knows how
To interpret them. Persons of faith are tremulous
And unsure, while those of science apparently
Cannot read nature’s peculiar new vocabulary.
Each of us is proceeding at a different pace,
Stumbling or running, aimless or headed straight
To a distant remembered door. The spendthrifts
Sing Auld Lang Syne and tip up goblets of fine
European brandy. Others are creeping and
Wandering, weeping and wondering. For we are
The new refugees, going nowhere. We are this
Old and horrifying pitiful dream come true.