National Poetry Month Day 4: torrin a. greathouse





Anthropocene Anxiety Disorder

Our whole world is burning
            & I am terrified by the mundane

                                    -ness of it all. The scent of smoke
                          a season of its own. Sometimes, I mistake
            the breeze passing through my hair

for the soft approach of flames.
            A poem has no allegiance

                                    to the truth. & even as I tell it
                          I fear you won’t believe me.
            Last summer, Paradise burned.

Every newspaper ran the same photo:
            McDonalds’ golden arches

                                    swaddled in flame. Forgive me.
                          I was, for a moment, glad
            to see my stepfather’s home

vanish. I did not think of the dead.
            Watched Snapchats of the freeway

                                    medians, their camisoles of smoke,
                          & remembered five summers before
            waking in a fire’s path. The strange calm

in our truck’s cab, the campsite
            flickering orange in the rearview.

                                    Do you think that we’ll survive
                          long enough for this to read
            as fiction? There are cameras

floating in space, turned inward,
            that will outlive us. The Arctic

                                    smolders in their lens’ eye & I wonder
                          if this is the last monument man will build
            large enough to dream that god will notice.


Photograph of torrin a. greathouse by Tarik Dobbs.

torrin a. greathouse is a transgender cripple-punk & MFA candidate at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of boy/girl/ghost (TAR Chapbook Series, 2018) & assistant editor of The Shallow Ends. Their work is published/forthcoming in POETRY, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, & The Kenyon Review. She was a finalist for the 2020 Pushcart Prize & is the youngest ever winner of the Poetry Foundation's J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood Prize. More from this author →