Home > Journaling the Apocalypse > After the apocalypse, an English tutor considers her own corpse

After the apocalypse, an English tutor considers her own corpse

November 28, 2008

I live on a farm. We raise kidneys
to meet the overwhelming demand
for transplants after the explosion.
Nearly everyone, it is believed,
will need to replace one or both
of their kidneys by age 54.

When my grandparents were alive,
corn filled the fields. But now,
rows and rows of kidneys plump
beneath the moon. They thrive
in the night air. By day, they must
drink from a constant spray of water.

The stable looks like an ICU.
Hospital beds nest in stalls where
fat cows and their wobbly calves
used to wait. Hundreds of people
(livestock, too, really) pass their days
with dialysis here until the crop ripens.

During the harvest, we’ll feed
dozens of doctors at the long table
in the farm house. The military police
eat under their tent near the guard shack.
We barely notice them anymore,
and our fear is mostly gone.

My job is to teach English to field hands,
who primarily speak Snorvlak. Humans
never developed a liking for tending
organs. Interplanetary treaties permit
laborers to work in specific industries.
They travel years for jobs like these.

My brother said they spy on us.
I didn’t believe it until he
was arrested. I don’t know where
he is now, but I don’t think he’s alive.
It is rumored that prisoner organs are
cut away and dried for use as seed.

We don’t feel safe asking about
the people we don’t see anymore.
No one ever dies of old age. They just
disappear. I pull weeds at the old family
plot near the forest and wonder,
What will become of my bones?

by Carolee D. Sherwood

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  1. November 28, 2008 at 11:47 am

    “What will become of my bones?” That is always the question.

  2. November 28, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    rows and rows of kidneys plump
    beneath the moon.

    Has got to be one of my favorite lines of poetry ever, from anywhere.

  3. November 28, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    i think that’s the first time I’ve heard your voice, Caroleee. The matter of fact reading contrasts eerily with the scary nature of the organ harvesting, the disappearing humans, the police state. A true post-apocalyptic world.

  4. November 28, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    This is amazing. Very creepy. Very effective. You’ve created a world here, one we can enter.

  5. November 29, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Creepy, chilling even, but gripping. Well done.

  6. November 30, 2008 at 9:51 am

    Wonderful and dark. Great narrative sense.

  7. November 30, 2008 at 11:53 am

    thank you, everyone. for reading and listening. i’m pleased the “matter of fact” tone came across in the piece and in the reading. thanks!

  8. November 30, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    A whole novel in there, but better than.

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