Three poems by Suzannah Evans

Three poems from Near Future

Summer with Robobees

Those long evenings they giddied
in the warm wealth
of the oilseed rapefields
humidity sensors
estimating approaching storms

We picnicked on the lawn in July –
shuttlecocks pinged distantly
our scones and jam unbothered by the robobees
their algorithms danced them
between marigolds

Sometimes they get indoors
through open windows
go from room to room
humming tinnily in frustration
flailing airfoils against windows

The radio urges us
to rescue ailing robobees
turn them solar-side-up
revive them
with a teaspoon of WD40

When we walk bridleways at sunset
the long grass tinkles with them
their titanium bodies
fracturing the syrupy light

I discover one at rest on the patio
battery sensor on red –
vexed by my interference
it sticks me with its docking appendage

Our first taste of that year’s honey
was sweet and cloverous
bright and clear as apple sap
always with that aftertaste of axle grease

We just passed on the street

in another universe
and nearly made eye contact.
It wasn’t long enough for me
to find out how funny you are

and you were just setting off
on an intergalactic rescue mission
so there was no time to go for a drink
at the zero gravity bar, talk all night
and dance on the ceiling

then head back to mine
tear off each others’ tinfoil underwear
sleep through the double sunrise
and half of the next morning.

It is possible that there are lifetimes
where we might never be tested
by the future or each other

and I would fall in love with someone
who isn’t you, but is nonetheless viable
or live out my days alone
and supremely creative

but here we are, sitting by your father’s bedside
watching forever end, as we understand it, for him
in his thin body under these thin sheets
and each second is bearable but a whole day
is excruciating

and, although in a parallel universe
none of this is happening
we are here in this airless room
that open window doing nothing.

The End of the End of the World

There are a hundred ways for the world to end.
We talked about them all in the glow of emptying bars
leaving other things unsaid, holding their potential

to the light. It wasn’t long after the election
people had started to joke about bookshops
shelving dystopian fiction under current affairs.

You told me your favourite zombie movies
sent me poems about killer robots
I wrote one about a parallel universe

where circumstances were different –
texted sleeplessly at hours of the night
when I should not have been thinking

about microbial resistance or you
began to worry about the security
of my mobile phone and heart.

Of course in an apocalypse
no-one has to think about the consequences
and if the doomsday clock hits midnight

or the tower blocks of this city start burning
then fine, let’s drink the bar dry and go to bed
but there is so much future to wake up to

in homes where our real lives
are already missing us, or alone in sad hotels
above a street of buskers and human statues

preachers of various creeds and sandwich boards
who wait for you to stand still too long
and ask you what you know about eternity.

Suzannah Evans lives in Sheffield and her pamphlet Confusion Species was a winner in the 2012 Poetry Business book and pamphlet competition, judged by Carol Ann Duffy. She has had poems published in The Rialto, The North, Magma and Poetry Review and her poem ‘Helpline’ has been ‘Poem of the Week’ on the Guardian website. As a teenager she had an obsessive fear of the apocalypse which has informed and inspired many of her poems, and she still doesn’t know whether it’s best to plan responsibly for the future or party like it’s 1999. Her debut collection Near Future has just been published (8 November 2018) by Nine Arches Press. Twitter @SuzannahEvans