An Afternote to a Book Without Us
Cockroaches raced along the ground here long before
there were dark alleys and rancid dumpsters,
truck drivers and greasy spoon diners, old hamburger wrappers
to curl up inside. Before we were here, cockroaches
scuttled in the nests of dinosaurs, fed on the sticky albumin
of newly-hatched eggs, dug tunnels in massive piles of fecal matter,
were old even then. They lived through
the asteroids, the second and third great extinctions,
left petrified footprints in the mud
alongside our first bipedal ancestors.
They will be here to see the last flower of humanity
wilt in the heat of cataclysm, will polish our bones
with their tiny, patient mandibles, will lay their eggs
in our shirt pockets and empty hats. There will be
no great cockroach takeover,
no post-apocalyptic ascension to superiority—
they will always just be, chitinous wings fluttering,
scurrying, squeaking in the dark.
Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and Harvard Review. Her newest poetry collections are Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing), Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing), and The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body (Anaphora Literary Press).