Let's Say There Are People Left; Nights on the River of No Return
By: Mistee St. Clair
Let's Say There Are People Left
And my bones are found
by survivors of this pained land
who have humps like camels for storing water.
Will they dust me off
and want to know who I was?
Let’s say humankind is still curious.
Even if they are genetically perfected,
or merged with AI and robots, wearing
bionic limbs and exoskeletons.
Or like the man who has an antenna implanted
so that color waves vibrate in his skull
and he can hear yellow, magenta,
the green of sleeping grass.
And the woman who has seismic sensors in her feet
and feels earthquakes roll across the earth.
Let’s say a few mysteries stand.
Let’s say I live to one hundred,
then wander off a trail into the woods,
lie down where I’ve always been
and my ancestors have always been—
find a meadow or soft bog
and rest in it, sink into the earth
and blink out like a star.
It wouldn’t be a bad way to go.
The earth mouthing my flesh,
the soil shifting and spitting out
a stoic femur, an arched pelvis,
and placing them on the side
of her infinite plate. Let’s say
our bones will remind us of ourselves.
Nights On the River of No Return
(The Frank Church Wilderness Area)
It’s not like you’re drunk, not really. The moon teases its albescent light just behind the mountains, illuminating a ridgeline of ponderosa standing erect and modest as wallflowers. When the moon crests, the opposite range lights up. You wonder if the sky will ever be this touchable again. Like you could reach out to the moon and stroke it. Maybe it is the guitars and cello singing around the campfire. Maybe it is the dare of rafting a cello down the river, or the spur of whiskey and wine softening throats of old friends. But the moon has called and you face it. Life has called and your body hums. You don’t think about tomorrow, or yesterday, or the next divine second. It’s just that you are rapacious for something and think you will devour yourself if you move. But you do. You move past the music and fire, the laughter, up the bank to the field of tents. And you are seamless. You are that much closer to the moon. When your sleeping bag gathers you, you wonder how to keep these nights. And when all is quiet, the crickets strum their wings. You hear the crickets strum their wings.
Mistee St. Clair is the author of This Morning is Different, an Alaska Literary Award grantee, and has been published by Split Rock Review, Northwest Review, SWWIM Every Day, and more. She lives in Juneau, Alaska, a northern rainforest, where she works seasonally for the Alaska State Legislature.