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ISSUE:  Fall 2006

What happens then, after the stars explode, after the universe expands to the limits of possibility,
after the bones of the last animals disappear into the plains, and melt into the dirt, and rise up as corn,
rise up as grass blowing in the autumn winds that carry the soil back to the sea as the oceans boil away
and the galaxies recoil into the swirling matter, and the earth becomes a single ripple, a single integer in that equation?

What happens then, how does the story turn out, the social narratives in many languages, the striving cultures,
new definitions of justice, new plans for a rebuilt city, leaders and followers, a championship season,
plots and dramas we each have played our small parts in, our domestic sentence, our phrase or motif,
our single character—& or q—whichever shape our being has pressed into the ledger of time?

What happens after our works have all been forgotten, the paintings lost, the architecture collapsed,
when the last books have fallen into the sea to be consumed by whales, digested by shrimp and minnows,
when our music no longer echoes, and lampreys alone read the poetry of humanity in the vast library of the deep?

What happens after the body fails, after the noise of the blood falls still, the lungs grow stiff,
after the white bird ascends from the marsh at dawn to escort the soul to the borders of this realm,
the day, the hour, the moment after—what happens then, what happens then?

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