End Times

— Vuong Vu

A man named Thedeus of Judea claimed himself
Messiah and the year 44 AD to be the end of time.
He was beheaded by Romans soldiers
in the desert, and the world did not end.
My mother used to tell us, as we were falling
asleep, that at the end of the world,
the seas will rise to meet the clouds,
and fish will eat the stars.
In 989, Halley’s Comet appeared in the sky
like an omen, an apparition, a cloaked star.
In 958, Emperor Otto I took an eclipse
to be an apocalyptic sign and led his army into holy war.
I believed my mother about the end of the world;
I believed her stories about Jesus Christ,
his Second Coming, the rumors of war.
A Roman priest predicted the Second Coming
in 500 AD, based on the recorded measurements
of Noah’s Ark. Armageddon was predicted
for 1666—that is, 666 marked onto
the thousandth year of Jesus Christ.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believed the world to end
in 1994; 6000 years, they claimed, after the creation
of Eve to ease Adam’s loneliness.
In the year my father went to war, my mother
waited each evening at the train station,
the city darkening, the echoes of war
in the night. And the world did not end
in the year 2000, but New Age believers
foresee the end in 2012 based on stone
Mayan calendars and ancient prophecies.
Just last year, a German man sued to stop
the Large Hadron Collider; believing it would create
a black hole—and darkness to swallow us all.
My mother remembers still the meteoric light,
the approaching roar of the train, the night
my father came home from war.
My mother used to tell us, as we were falling
asleep, that at the end of the world,
the only stories that will matter will be
our love stories

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