We’d been out past sunset
watching the leopard. Winter,
wrapped in blankets, the sky
went bright as we crested a ridge
towards Botswana. Were they invading,
we joked but also wondered, seriously,
had poachers set off a flare?
No, it was too bright, and I’ll tell you now
though I didn’t learn it until much later,
we’d seen an asteroid crashing
into the Kalahari, +/- 23 million years
after being ejected from a belt
between Jupiter and Mars.
This was the time to consider
my life, my path, the end. I didn’t.
Nor the ancients, nor things falling apart,
flung and falling, smashing,
gravity and orbits, detection,
I could go somewhere else with this entirely
but I haven’t, I’m still right here,
I’ve seen many leopards.
Erin Conway–Smith was born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her poems have appeared in The Malahat Review, PRISM international, Ons Klyntji and (forthcoming) Best Canadian Poetry 2024. As a journalist, Erin has reported for The Economist, The Times (UK), The Globe and Mail and other publications.