Today's poem is by Maggie Smith

When Worlds Collide (1951)

        I think all you scientists are crackpots! Nothing is going to happen.

If Dr. Bronson's calculations prove to be correct,
this will be the most frightening discovery of all time.
The astronomer is convinced a star umpteen times
the size of the sun is barreling straight at us, but
no one believes. His daughter—nicknamed Stargazer,
tiny-waisted in tailored suits and pearls—is terrified.
Looking out a taxicab window, she wishes she were
ignorant like all the others, still rushing to work, saving
for a time-share at the beach, planning for the future.
She doesn't want to know the day and time of the end
of the world, or that the only thing to do is hurry up
and build a rocketship, a modern ark bound for a planet
that may not even be habitable. It's a world war
mentality, except they're rationing time. The daughter
knows this, like she knows only forty can be saved
and she's one of them. When the star bears down,
big and orange as a harvest moon, the tin rocketship
lifts off. Her eyes are wild. The pilot she's sweet on
wonders aloud if they'll have enough gas to get there.
It's hard to say—the needle bounces on the fuel gauge,
likely stolen from a '48 Lincoln Continental. It's so
American, coasting into the new world on fumes.

Copyright © 2008 Maggie Smith All rights reserved
from West Branch
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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