Where Birds in the Sky Creep Downward

To Dr. M.L. Williams, professor at Valdosta State University

The sidewalks are burning
and all the clocks have stopped.
The fire has spread to the graveyard.
The formaldehyde used to preserve
the dead is catching on fire,
along with their bodies
and the hollowed trees used
to hide them from decay.
My professor
gave up space exploration
(a degree in physics)
to teach us poetry.
He will never find
a new planet to save us
after this one is destroyed,
but he taught us
how to write about it,
a form of salvation.

—Laura Hanna