LAURA J. BRAVERMAN is a writer and artist. Her poetry has appeared in Levure Litteraire, Live Encounters, The BeZINE, California Quarterly, and Mediterranean Poetry. Her first collection of poetry, In the Absence of Defense Against Loss, will be published in 2019 by Cosmographia Books. She lives in Lebanon and Austria with her family.
For a long time I believed Martin Luther said these words:
Even if I knew tomorrow the world would go to pieces,
I would still plant my apple tree.
We shared a birthday, though his was 500 years before mine.
He would have spoken the words in my mother tongue. I use
them as an incantation, as defense against helplessness—
our globe as little as twenty years from now—septic seas,
garbage dunes, drought and flood. My husband soothes me,
says creation moves in cycles regardless of the reckless
doings of our tribe. He sides with Heraclitus: World ever was,
an ever-living fire,
kindling and extinguishing according to measure.
But surely our wild hunger has sped things up.
Does the earth care for us?
We scrub pots after dinner, pick up our children’s Lego bricks.
We better Narcissus—leap headlong into the reflections
our digital screens hold up. We save manatees stranded in mud,
compose cantatas, dry rose petals in the sun;
we beg at intersections with matted hair and little siblings, knock
on closed car windows.
We fear the swollen legs of our father,
scratch butterflies with our fingernails on stonewalls,
line up for death.
Does the universe care for us?
I’ve come across a theory: the cosmos expected life,
prepared for consciousness, for us, from its very cradle—
hoped for apple trees and their tart, pesky harvest.