Hey, guys? “Never Say Mayday While There’s Still Marzipan”

21 Dec

Terror of the Future / 4

BY MATTHEA HARVEY

You had to win the sweepstakes
to get a survival kit. Some of the smarter
Sunday painters kept suet and Saran Wrap
stowed amongst their stencils. My sponsor
disappeared with nary a splash. I didn’t speculate.
I said he was “snowed under.” All we ever did   
together was play “Simon Says” and try to outrun
our shadows. It was a rotten routine and I’m not
going to romanticize it. I wouldn’t have put ribbons
on his wreath but I was hoping to qualify for
the preharvest and a few jars of preserves.
In the meantime I sent my remaining relatives
postcards with phoenixes on the front.
No need to be a pessimist and think about
the family plot. Yes, the panic-stricken and pain-ridden
continued to dive into the Pacific, but one
could get overstimulated thinking about it.
I was no onlooker. I went shopping for
a new look. I studied myths. I even invented
a motto for myself: Never Say Mayday
While There’s Still Marzipan. When I was feeling
low-spirited, it helped to think of the lion
who was being given only lichen to eat.   
The lily-livered wouldn’t look through the lens.
I looked and saw that the scientists
in the laboratory were looking for keywords
in the Judgment Book, still hadn’t jettisoned
that piece of junk. It was time to make a home
in the hedge and try not to hear the gunshots.
So what if the grass was really green glass?

 

Source: Modern Life (Graywolf Press, 2007) via The Poetry Foundation

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