All day roaming the Char in search of food, a deep root
divined with shank of rebar, this titan beetle
wedged between bricks of a roofless school; pencils
and other combustibles long removed by stripping blaze.
All night awake in my slingbed spanning two
rampikes, a lesser sum of fangs to contend with up here
my mind stringing loose narratives from the opacity
of scuttles and grunts in the crunch below.
This wonderment of imperfect couplings:
air/cough, wind/wing, blackened stump/viral attack
crepuscular wails of sludge-skimmers stitching
my blood-dimmed brain. The hunger
of a thousand whistling cranes
who have lost their song. The questions begged.
Kim Goldberg is the author of eight books of poetry and nonfiction. Her most recent book is Devolution, poems and fables of ecopocalypse (Caitlin Press 2020). Her speculative poems have appeared in Star*Line, On Spec, Augur, Dark Mountain, Imaginarium 3, Tesseracts 11, and elsewhere. She lives on Vancouver Island. Twitter: @AlsoGoldberg
Author’s Backstory and Comments: I wrote “Hunger” on Halloween 2020 and was in a pretty macabre mindset at that time. I wandered the empty streets of our desolate downtown core, where storefronts had been boarded up for months for the pandemic closure. There was no traffic, no pedestrians, not even a stray dog. Stoplights cycled through their colors for no one. It was literally as quiet as a graveyard. Ghoulish dollar-store decorations for All Hallows’ Eve adorned lawns on nearby residential streets in the Old Quarter. But there was no evidence of human life. Was I the sole survivor on this post-apocalyptic landscape? What would I eat? Where would I sleep? What threats would nightfall bring?
Editor’s Notes and Image Credit: An empty street in downtown Ottawa, Canada on May 14, 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic [photography by Joel Jantzi].