The Signs

I pull my car into/ the carport as NPR broadcasts a report on/ the plague of desert locusts descending on the Horn of Africa/ swathing, swirling, moving on. /I turn off the engine and/ listen to the story. One rancher laments,/ “When we slaughter our livestock we find/ locust faces in their stomachs.”/ Largest swarm in Kenya is 37/ miles long by 25 miles/ wide, larger than most cities./ The locusts march on, their chitinous/ exoskeletons resembling military armor. I wonder,/ is this infestation one more sign of /the End Times? The Apocalypse set to/ descend on the world, swathing and swirling? / Africa already has makings /of a Covid-19 epidemic / Now add the locusts.

Will I soon/behold angels upending bowls over the earth filled with/ painful sores, dead sea creatures/ heatwaves beyond tolerance /darkness/ earthquakes?/ Can seeing visions, the battle between ultimate /Good and ultimate Evil be/ far behind? T.S. Eliot wrote the world will end/ “not with a bang, but with a/ whimper.” I’m fearing that/ before the last whimper (maybe from the/ lips of a Covid patient on death’s precipice)/ there will be many other bangs: giant/ hailstones, frogs tumbling from/ dragon mouths, gnats /in eyes, boils, torments./ I strain my ears to hear the/ inevitable clattering of hooves as the /four horsemen ride into town. // Bang. /In the silence that follows, I fear no one/ will remember the changing of /water into wine, the/ miraculous healings of mind and body/ a man walking on water.

— Hannah Maggiora

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