First the birds dropped from the sky—all at once,
their dive final and unexpected, unexplained.
Then fish turned belly up, their lives turned off en masse.
Amid the scurry we waited for answers.
Scientists said earth changed the tilt of its axis;
not to worry, it does so every 41,000 years.
Subsequently, there will be a few changes.
If you were a Libra before, now you're a Virgo.
If you were a Sagittarius, now there's a new sign—
Ophiuchus, (Ὀφιοῦχος) from the Greek,
The 13th sign: The Serpent Bearer.
Another minor detail, the change in tilt
was the switch to start the next catastrophe.
Be it ice age or nuclear holocaust, the timeframe
is unclear, but it is eventual, inevitable.
I open my copy of A Swiftly Tilting Planet and reread
St. Patrick's Rune. I'm twelve again and hopeful.
I grasp it firmly to my chest, a breastplate
bearing magical power to thwart all danger.
Now, we wait for the sun to right the wrongs,
To quell the stirrings of a planet moved.
All rights reserved.
In 1963 I was 12 and escaped every horrible event by reading. There are moments I feel a similar brokenness like I felt when Kennedy was assassinated. The events of 9-11, the destruction of our world, either by our own hands or the hand of weather gone amok, are unsettling triggers for me. They remind me of my first encounter with the abyss in 1963, in which case, no book is ever strong enough.
The Thirteenth Sign originally appeared in Schrodinger’s Mouse, Vol. 2. Art credit: Teresa Tunaley