2018 LA by Erin Conway-Smith

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 ConwaySmith 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.