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Working Tune: a Catholicon, a poem by Bethany Brengan

Working Tune: A Catholicon

I step forward on my left foot, and my left foot says:
“Things fall apart
the center cannot hold.”
I step forward on my right foot, and my right foot says:
            “All shall be well,
and all manner of thing shall be well.”

If the apocalypse arrives tomorrow, and the Lord lifts his few,
fortunate faithful on invisible wires; if Cinderella
makes it to the ball in a dress like the sun
and impossible slippers—
or if the apocalypse arrives tomorrow, and we are left quaking
under wars and rumors of wars; and Cinderella must sort seeds, without help
(because all the birds have died), in the blood-light of the moon—
or if tomorrow the gears of the world don’t
fall off, and the mills of the gods still grind
to their tedious gain; and we all awake
covered in the gray stars of last night’s ashes—
even then we must remember to water our mother’s grave,
tend her trees, buy the milk, bake the bread,
fill the mouths that, this morning, gape on our doorstep. Everywhere
is work to be done. Somewhere,
we might till up a promise in the soil.

And my right foot says,
            “I believe.”
And my left foot says,
            “Help my unbelief.”

Bethany Brengan’s poetry has appeared in various publications, including Contemporary Verse 2: The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical Writing, The Hollins Critic, The 2015 Poet’s Market, The Gordon Square Review, and Claw & Blossom. She is an Indiana Wesleyan University graduate who now splits her time between the breath-taking Olympic Peninsula and the bowels of the internet. She is also a contributor to Dick Grayson, Boy Wonder: Scholars and Creators on 75 Years of Robin, Nightwing, and Batman (McFarland Publishing). She can be found at and