This is what the Last Ones left us.
After the Era of Flood and after the Era
of Fire, we creep into the Central Clusters
and rifle through the rubble. From the top
of a cliff, two pink eyes and one pale ear beckon.
The Wordsplitter names the creature
Kangamouse, Male. It is not one of their BeWiths,
which were almost universally furred,
nor a ListenTo, since he makes no sound,
nor is there a mention of Kangamouse
in the Aesop’s Fables found in a Ziplock
in Zone Twelve some twenty years ago.
We still cannot make a Ziplock, but we know
all about Morals—try before you trust and
might makes right. We try to tease one out.
If a “mouse” can make its home in a hole, are we
to understand we will live on without the sun?
If the “kangaroo” keeps its children in a pocket,
is it wise to keep our Gimmes close too though
they wail and steal our food? Perhaps Kangamouse
has something to do with their mysterious notion of “Play”—
a type of waiting for sunset that involved throwing
spheres and grimacing. He may well be yet another
Withholder, since when we press on his button,
like all the other Gods we’ve found and abandoned,
nothing happens. Night makes light we murmur, and look
up at the sky with the face the Last Ones called Hope.
Matthea Harvey is the author of Sad Little Breathing Machine (Graywolf, 2004) and Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form (Alice James Books, 2000). Her third book of poems, Modern Life (Graywolf, 2007) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Cirlcle Award and a New York Times Notable Book. Her first children’s book, The Little General and the Giant Snowflake, illustrated by Elizabeth Zechel, is forthcoming from Tin House Books. Matthea is a contributing editor to jubilat, Meatpaper and BOMB. She teaches poetry at Sarah Lawrence and lives in Brooklyn.