C. Wade Bentley


It starts small. First, maybe you fail to notice the blue
azalea bush that has been remarkable on the last corner
of your evening walk for thirteen years. And so it isn’t
there. Then it’s that stretch of new housing out

by the airport that up and leaves the map as if a wash
of bleach were bleeding in from the west. One day,
when you’re not looking, one Indonesian island blinks out
and triggers a cascade through the other seventeen

thousand like a strand of Christmas tree lights going dark.
By the time you look around, continents are calving-off entire
countries, which maybe join Atlantis in the Mariana
Trench and pick up where they left off or, more likely, turn

as barren and white as Great Barrier coral or the pods
of belugas which, by the way, are no longer punting about
in the Arctic, their melons having gone missing, along with
the sea ice and, while we’re at it, the sea. What’s left,

at this point, is a solitary cistern of clear water, inexorably
evaporating, leaving bathtub rings in the red desert rock,
as it goes. Still, if you cup your hands around your eyes,
shutting out everything else, if you peer deeply into the dark

water, refusing to avert your eyes, as if their lives depended
on it, or yours, you can see your grandchildren there, chasing
a dog on a narrow islet of grass, oblivious to the truth that dawns
on you at last, how they are all that is left of the world.

C. Wade Bentley teaches and writes in Salt Lake City.  His poems have been published or are forthcoming in many journals, including Cimarron Review, Best New Poets, Rattle, Chicago Quarterly Review, Southern Poetry Review, Poetry Daily, The American Journal of Poetry, and Poetry Northwest. A full-length collection of his poems, What Is Mine, was published by Aldrich Press in January of 2015. You may visit wadebentley.weebly.com for complete information about his publications and awards.