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We Believed in the End of the World

We scrunched under the desk
where I once memorized

the lives of saints and heroes

while the teacher droned on
trying to stay calm

in the face of a bomb

that might never fall.

In that rich dark
we learned how we fitted

boy and girl,

how we were opposites

and each our own opposite.

Above us the stashed gum
of a generation of older brothers

glinted, amazingly hard:

if we tried to carve a heart

that dark sheen cracked.

We believed this world would end:

like water from the fountain
held in cupped hands,

like chalk dust or the powder

from a jelly donut.

Far away the principal rumbled on his scratchy intercom,

then nothing, the powerful swish
of traffic, silence, time passing,

the pulse quickening
as if to find a way out

and no world except us.


D. Nurkse

D. Nurkse has published his seventh collection of poetry, The Fall.


The Brooklyn Rail


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