Currency of Survival

By Natalie Taylor

Featured art: Scott Catalogue USA PC7 (National Postal Museum)

A half-eaten waffle, syrup-logged in a plastic takeout container,
dropped in the middle of the street. Bald man in a blue truck slows down,
cranes his head out the window to get a closer look. Suited folk

coming home from church swerve. It’s finally cool enough, after 37 days of dry heat,
to turn off the air conditioning, open windows.
Hooting and hollering from the apartments as someone on TV scores a touchdown.

Last night a friend came over. She has 16 pets, most of them rescue animals:
dogs, cats, rabbits, and ducks. She installed a heated pond in a spare bedroom. She’s worried
about how to transport them when she moves to Maine as a climate refugee.

A grandmother and grandkids carrying leftovers in Styrofoam walk past
the waffle. Dark feathers brush across the storm-swift sky.
A car drives over it, wheels straddling the soggy breakfast. Something exciting happens in the game:

Yeah! Then clapping. My friend with 16 pets has no hope life on earth will get better.
If you think we have an immigration crisis now, wait until Mumbai is uninhabitable,
she says. Everyone on the planet is moving to Canada.

I think of a fable where a rich man buries a bag of gold
in the middle of the road and covers it with a boulder. Then he watches.
Some people are angry. Some ignore it and walk around it. Only one boy

thinks to move the stone. My friend thinks that by 2050 the high desert will be too hot to survive.
We’ll run out of water. She thinks we are hurtling ourselves out of
the habitable zone. But I think of pyramids and vaccines and walking on the moon.

Humans adapt. Imagine, all of us trying to fit in the northernmost region
of North America
. She thinks it’s impossible because
the rich are already buying up all the land and building homes there.

A girl in a striped shirt and red pants walks a dog with an upcurled
toffee-colored tail. The dog stops to sniff as thunder growls across the valley.
Four teenagers on bicycles. Another couple with three dogs, hair and fur rising

in gusts. Wind rhythms the chimes, thunder drums closer
and the first sweet slaps of rain hit burnt tips of leaves, brown grass, dried lily stalks.
Smell of wet cement. Soon, a miniature river bounces in the gutter.

Clatter of rain drowns out the game. A neighbor checking his mail—leopard-print kimono
sticking to his long legs, arms waving wildly to shoo the storm, yelling out as if in pain—
bends to pick up the waffle. Raindrops plinking like millions of silver coins.

Natalie Taylor earned a BFA in English with a creative writing emphasis from the University of Utah. She is the author of the poetry chapbook Eden’s Edge and her work has been published in 15 Bytes, Hubbub, Hunger Mountain, Kettle Blue Review, New Ohio Review, Rock & Sling, and Talking River. She won first place in the 2016 Utah Original Writing competition and was named a 2017 Mari Sandoz Emerging Writer.

Originally published in NOR 28

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