It began with the honeybees leaving their hives, slipping out one by one & never coming back. What is a bee without a hive? What is a hive without its bees? Imagine the queen wandering alone through cellblocks of dead larvae. Imagine her, too, finally struggling to fly away, & lodging among the petals of some unfamiliar bloom.
Then the bats began waking from hibernation & leaving their caves in the middle of winter, fluttering through the leafless snowy woods until they perished from cold or hunger. Those who stayed behind died in place, a white fungus sprouting from their snouts like the untrimmed beards of aging hobos.
The next summer, acorns failed to form on any of the oaks throughout the eastern part of the country. There hadn’t been a freeze in flowering time that anyone could remember, just endless rain. The 17-year cicadas had emerged two weeks late from the ruins of the strange mud turrets they had built to wait the rain out. But whether this had anything to do with the acorns’ failure to put it an appearance, no one knew. That autumn, squirrels & bluejays, deer & deer mice & wild turkeys wandered hungry through the mountains as financial markets collapsed all over the world. Credit dried up. An economy based on consumer debt & the presumption of unlimited metastasis suddenly seemed a little less than wise. Since the usual experts had all fallen silent, we began to cast about for signs & portents. That’s why, when an acorn fell on my head, I assumed the worst. I didn’t know what hit me. I saw stars.