Without you, no paper in reams, no books with spines to break with use, no shirt whose blue I love against my husband’s skin, eyes, no button from another country, no stitches programmed down his sides, no machine measuring my mother’s heart while they cut the cancer out, no tomatoes in winter, no cheap wine, no wandering another country’s streets for a few days, no drug mules, no miles of highway, no fast enough to break a tumbleweed, no Christmas trees in desert, no rolling blackouts, no moving away from but still keeping family, no clean and running water, no toothbrushes, no antibiotics, no grandmother’s face on the phone teasing my daughter, no ballet shoes, no hothouse flowers at our wedding, no train of my dress, no desire for a train on my dress, you have made us wealthy in goods and time, without you no cookbooks, no inflatable pool, no water guns, no smashing the bass at the end of a concert, no MTV, no Hollywood, no Hadron Collider, you have migrated the bees on the backs of trucks, you have made cement swimming pools, a million rubber ducks and most of the toys my daughter loves, without you no lifejackets, no mammograms, no gas masks, no napalm, no grandmother’s farm in summer, no machines to replace bodies in the fields, no wind turbines on semis across the highways, we could have known who made every object in our house, no neatly cremated bodies behind the barbed wire, the buildings, no mercury rising through the city from their burned teeth, without you fewer mosquitoes, no almost instantaneous history of the world in light, no expansion to the coast, without you no mass-market guns, no 3D printers, no ultrasound of the baby’s body, no landscape as a staging area for designer clothes & purses, no taking someone’s acres to tunnel or poison, no carnival rides, no ice in drinks, no selling the oil & mineral rights to leave something to the next generation, without you no wonder, no photos of the war, the wedding, no piñata favors, no artificial heart, no snooze button, without you no body doused in
flames for protest, no flying back to say goodbye to my grandparents, no flying for the funerals, no casinos, no poems scattered in dead hard drives, no soldiers on the ships and submarines sent to the sea, to war, no flag in the ice, no recording under the ocean of song, no birth control pill in its oyster pink box, no women on the factory floor, no flammable nightgowns, flammable water, oil slick, yellow bright wellies, train explosion, paintings that smell like horses, fish from the ocean’s middle, no quick shower before work, no Madam Curie’s laboratory, no man on the moon, astronauts exploding in air, no World Trade Center, no World Trade Center falling, no fires in the oil fields, no oil spill in the water, no time down to the second, no glut of information, no newspaper on my phone, no cold waiting rooms, no pieces showing what it all adds up to, here we are: an increased standard of living, fewer deaths in the factories, the mines, the fields, and now, bear down: the sixth extinction’s crowning

Sasha West’s first book, Failure and I Bury the Body, was a winner of the National Poetry Series. She is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at St. Edward’s University.