Caitlin Johnstone – “The Mushroom Cloud Angel”

November 21, 2017 at 8:10 pm (Caitlin Johnstone, Poetry & Literature)

A mushroom cloud angel came to visit me one night
while I was drinking whiskey and Gatorade
and arguing with a wrong person on the internet.
It smelled like ozone and tire fires.
Its eyes stretched all the way back to the Big Bang.

“Uhh, look,” I said as my vase of petunias wilted in its presence.
“Whatever this is, I’m really not ready for it.
I haven’t showered, and my credit’s a mess,
and I’ve got unresolved issues with my mother still.
Emma Carmichael next door, you should try her.
She’s got her shit together.
She drives a Honda Odyssey.”

There was a deep rumbling in my bones,
and the paint on the walls began to peel.
A cockroach scuttled out backwards from its hiding place.
My office supplies started to levitate,
and suddenly I knew what the creature wanted.
Why it had come to me.

“Oh,” I said.
“Okay. Let me think.”

I told it about how I try really, really hard
not to let any moment here go to waste.
How even if I’m just watching The Bachelorette
or doodling in my notepad or looking out the window,
I try to really feel every part of it.
I told it how the beauty of my lover’s face makes me weep,
and how I cherish every time my kids include me in their things.
How the galahs and magpies bicker every morning
and how they make me smile while I sip my black coffee.
How I know it’s spring when the magnolias blossom,
and how jasmine means summer’s near.

I showed it everything I’ve come to adore about people;
our frailty, our ferociousness,
our relentless drive to create.
The guileless symbiosis of an elderly married couple,
the elegant awkwardness of teenagers,
the desperation of parents trying not to screw up too bad.
How thrilling it is to start again every sunrise.
How terrifying it is to fall more in love every day
with someone who can’t live forever.

I invited it into my body and let it walk around in my skin
so it could feel how awesome it is to be human.
Still haven’t gotten the smell out of my nostrils
or the ancient eons out of my veins.

“Well?” I asked it, my face dripping sweat,
when I’d run out of reasons to offer.
“Do we get to stay here or not?”

The mushroom cloud angel turned and walked away,
burning craters in the Carmichaels’ lawn with its feet.
I don’t know who else it has talked to since,
or how often we’re made to answer,
but the bombs still haven’t dropped.
We’re all still here,
come what may.

Emma was so pissed off.

Caitlin Johnstone

Permalink Leave a Comment