These, remedial gestures: how
a spinning bulk of garbage in
the sea becomes a Holy Vortex
for a plastic bag’s vagrancy,

how landfill picking transforms
for garden-artists: pluck, prune,
and glean like you’re foraging
treasure on behalf of trash,

how after nuclear disaster,
mushrooms grow on reactor walls,
harnessing radiation like purple
alliums photosynthesize light,

happy globes bursting, these
flowers can nurture budding
stars in climates on the drier side,
drought-tolerant, they’ll keep alive.

I read once, that there’s a kind
of love that doesn’t extend itself
both ways between two people
equally because it doesn’t have to.

When air explodes hot and buoyant,
it bubbles and expands, waltzes with
open legs and a rising skirt, condensing
debris, sucking energy from decay.

What’s left at the end of the world,
besides lichen, missile clouds blocking
the sun, and a harvest for two that
can only be tilled by one?

Serena Alagappan received her A.B. in comparative literature and creative writing from Princeton University in 2020. She is currently pursuing an MSt in World Literatures in English at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and editing poetry for the 30th annual Mays Anthology. Her poems have appeared in The London Magazine, The American Journal of Poetry, the Colorado Review, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of the 2022 New Poets Prize and her pamphlet ‘Sensitive to Temperature’ will be published by The Poetry Business under the Smith|Doorstop imprint next year.