The Sugar Sea

By the time the cockroaches came,
the sand had remembered that it was a sea.
The Sand Hills were dunes again,
fletched with beach grass and sand plums.

Their pale gold grains were exactly
the color of cane sugar fresh from the pressing,
and so the cockroaches named this
the Sugar Sea and set their conical huts nearby.

What had once been North America
was now East America and West America –- or
would have been, if anyone recalled
the Americas or the mammals that had named them.

Two long narrow wings, divided by
a wide inland sea and boned by mountains,
now housed the larval civilization
as the cockroaches began to settle and build.

Sometimes, in the dust, they found
strange things: layers and lakes of red rust,
and the ruined bones of buildings
beaten flat by some unimaginable cataclysm.

Even the Sugar Sea itself held secrets,
for on a clear day the sun would show the bottom
traced with strange straight lines
and square after square of subtly rubbled mud.

The cockroaches assembled their village
all along the soft shores of that warm, sweet sea
but sometimes they looked out over
the whispering water, and they … wondered.

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