The United States will slide into the ocean at 3:45,
says my friend’s older brother, and he shows us the pictures
of land crumbling like a cookie dunked too long in milk.

Too terrified to cry, I run down our long dirt drive
and fumble with the key in the back door’s lock.
The waves pick me up as they sweep over Wisconsin,

the state I found on the map in history class
when we learned about glaciers that carved the land,
voyageurs, immigrants, Native Americans,

and the sizes of record wheels of cheese.
Watching the waters take my dad’s rusted truck,
my cat Streusel, my favorite tree, 

I swim ready with an answer if anyone asks
how they can place me back on the map:
I live in the Badger State in the US of A.

I remember the starred flag of each school morning
and my heart beating softly beneath my hand—
unlike now, when everything is not anything I know.

“End of Days” first appeared in issue No. 27 of Natural Bridge and is reprinted here by permission of the author. Jennifer Fandel is a native of Eau Claire who currently lives in St.  Louis. To learn more about her, visit

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