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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, February 24, 2016.
About this Poem 

“I have been fascinated lately by all the ways the world could end, and particularly the precise moment of an apocalyptic cataclysm: the asteroid hitting the ocean, the supervolcano’s pyroclastic flow. While writing this poem, I was thinking about the moment of nuclear annihilation, when the body vaporizes, its matter and person (seemingly) instantaneously transformed. But into what? I suppose in that way it is another poem about where we go when we die—not only as individuals, but as a species.”
—Sara Eliza Johnson

Vapor

When it happens the rain
is not black but powder.

A noise bleeds from your ears
and everything quakes

alive inside you:
the circuits of the flowers

lighting up across a meadow,
the nanoglow

of a sea years from here
           —:And like the flash

across an event horizon,
your thought disappears

:—and then the mind
threshed, and then the brain

a perfume of proto-pollen:
a microscopic cloud

radiating in a geranium
in the meadow of another country:

a powder the elk eat
in the sudden black rain.
 

Copyright © 2016 Sara Eliza Johnson. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2016 Sara Eliza Johnson. Used with permission of the author.

Sara Eliza Johnson

Sara Eliza Johnson

Sara Eliza Johnson is the author of Bone Map (Milkweed Editions, 2014). She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.

by this poet

poem

If a human body has two-hundred-and-six bones
and thirty trillion cells, and each cell
has one hundred trillion atoms, if the spine
has thirty-three vertebrae—
                   if each atom
has a shadow—then the lilacs across the yard
are nebulae beginning to star.
If the fruit