The Last Gasp
With the last desperate gasp
She slumped back on to the floor and was still.
Outside the birds sang in the pruned apple trees,
The spiders span their webs in the trimmed hedges,
Rabbits nibbled grass in the field at the back
And mice slipped through the foliage of the hedgerows – unseen.
Inside the house it was still, as if holding its breath in disbelief.
The car sat in the drive and everything was as neat and tidy as normal.
Except this was a new normal.
All over the world it was the same story.
Creatures hesitantly tested the extent of their jurisdiction
As they warily adjusted to the new world,
Keeping one eye on the look-out for man.
But there was no man to be seen.
In time they would forget.
In time the boundaries would disappear.
It had been so quick.
One minute there were lawns being mown, roads being laid and trees being felled –
One minute the world was full of cars, chainsaws and guns,
And the next it was quiet, holding its breath, before exhaling a new song of joy.
It did not take long.
The roots and spores soon set to work.
Concrete cracked, wood rotted and plants grew unchecked.
No more herbicides and pesticides –
A plethora of weeds, trees and insects –
A profusion of creatures large and small –
Without hindrance or cull
The predators had food a-plenty.
The seas unfished and freshened;
The air clear and scented;
The soil reinvigorated.
As grey turned green and life teemed
Evolution worked overtime to plug the gaps that man had hollowed out –
The mega-beasts, the balance and harmony, the variation and abundance.
And over a million years the bones
Compressed in rock
Were the only reminder of the days of disaster.
The Last Gasp
I have been thinking of writing a novel about a world to come, when mankind has had his day and the planet passes out of the Anthropocene and into a new age.
Without man it would not take long for all our structures to crumble away, for the plants and animals to reassert their presence and for the world to once more teem with life.
Without man the air and water would be pure and the soil cleansed so that balance could be restored.
Without the artificial farming of the most fertile land it would soon return to its natural climax and become rich in habitat and possibility. It would rapidly reassert a new harmony and balance.
It would provide impetus for a new burst of evolution as mutation threw up new possibilities to fill the gaps that mankind has wheedled out. Unchecked new species would emerge to exploit the abundance and changing ecosystems. The planet would soon recover.
Within the brief expanse of a million years or two it would be a rich new world of possibility, and there, buried in the rocks, would be the bones left to tell a terrible story of desperate days when a savage beast ravaged the land and relentlessly tainted and destroyed – a beast of intelligence, imagination and skill who proved himself none too clever, had his day and departed the scene.
I could not think how to write that novel with no characters to focus on, no survivors at all, so I condensed it into a poem.