if I call it the Zombie Apocalypse, neither of us are as scared as we should be

For My Nephew Max

At dawn, I scoop soft flesh from native squash
separate the slippery seeds in a shallow dish,
add olive oil, salt, pepper……….wonder:
should I dry them, save them, hide them
instead in a dark corner in the cellar store?

Before too much time, I should teach you,
teach you these things you’ll need to know,
like where the wild asparagus grow,
and how to shuck oysters……….if they remain

Scientists say now the seals might die.
Will oysters follow suit? The sweet brine of clams the same?
Do I even know if seeds will store and for how long
before they……….and we……….amount to ash?

Once, an acorn took root in the cellar,
stretched its albino shoot as high as it could reach
then gave up the ghost with a long heavy sigh
that haunted the house for days.

Acorns, I am told, are edible……….with work
But I pray that won’t be you, your sweet small self
stretched reaching-thin towards the sun
……….or the rain……….or the last nut high on a branch.

Remind me to tell you about nuts,
and roots and berries, spring shoots,
and mushrooms — both kinds, just in case.


Poem ©2019, Jen Payne. For similar reflections, please purchase a copy of my new book WAITING OUT THE STORM. Click here for details.