“What time will the cabinet crash down?” I asked. “Later today,”
she said, making crepes at the stove top. “That's no good,”
I said because it was no good. “Tell me the sugar content
of French bread.” “Two cubes,” she said, paused, and said,
“Two cubes,” this time without lying. “That can't be so,” I said
through a mouthful of cantaloupe. Sirens in the distance. “When's
the tour?” she asked. “Later today,” said I after a moment
of untamed rage. “When will the world end?” I asked, unknowing.
“Far too soon,” she replied. A tour bus huffed down the side street
toward the harbor. “May I tell you about my parents’ religion?”
I asked. “May I tell you about my ancestral home?” “After this song,”
she said through the silence. “The light is nice this morning.” “It's
afternoon,” I replied. “I meant what I said,” said she of the sun. Then,
into her phone: “Find me a lover.” The building’s furnace awoke.
“What did you mean,” I began, “when you spoke to the ocean breeze
coming off the sea? What sights do you see, eyes closed, when you
lay in the quiet bosom of the night with me?” “Seventeen million matches,”
she said, indifferently. “Okay,” said I. A cloud came between sun and
window pane. “In light of recent developments,” I continued,
“the asteroid will strike the planet in one hundred and forty-two hours.”
“Oh,” she said. “Waves will reach thirty-five point eight meters high,” I said.
“A little over one hundred and seventeen feet.” “What of the fishermen?”
she said and stepped toward me. “The wave will devastate the coastal
interior of twenty-one Indian Ocean nations.” “What will happen,”
she spoke, “to the fisherman and his four young children for whom
he provides?” “Global sea levels will rise three meters within
thirty-six hours,” I said and clenched my fists. She shook
my forearm and said, “What about their little shack where
the Madonna’s portrait hangs above their shared bed, the mattress
for which he saved so long?” “By now the atmosphere will ignite.”
“The children— nine, eight, four, and sixteen months—
their eyes, so deep, in the cool light of dusk—” “Billions will perish
from the catastrophic disintegration of the ozone layer.” She trembled.
“They wait for him every day near the shallow cove, next to
the cigarette shop with the faded placard.” The wall clock
ticked on the wall. The black odor of burnt crepes washed
our clothing. She released my arm. I hummed Le Marseillaise.
She asked, “Is it too late to find God?” Before I could answer,
the cabinet collapsed in the corner.