At first it was a laugh
the vase, trembling
then tiptoeing across the mantelpiece
and you caught the tumbling flowers
just in time
and that tiny hairline fracture
in the plaster, roof to floor –
I dreamed of magma, pouring through
the cracks, a white-hot underworld and fire.
We pored over maps, yes the fault-line
somewhere right beneath,
imagining the giant plates grinding
shockwaves tumbling houses,
fleeing cattle, death
waiting for the hills to
undulate like waves
the jutting prows of continents collide
and unseen carapace of earth
cliffs five miles high and right below
moving, moving, an inch or two
to change or waste our lives.
All night long we listened.
The radio talked about the Big One, a pulse
metronomed inside my fingers, counting down.
The cicadas had fallen silent and the moon
flared in your witless, reassuring smile.
I tasted fear, planned my exit
from the falling shattered walls,
waited for the dawn.