Sunday, October 27, 2019

To Do With Us

Having been fifty-seven
For fifty-seven days, whole,
October twenty-seventh

Found me watching the shade trees
Tossing in the neighbors’ yards,
Horses bucking and bowing

In the bare-skied, fearsome winds—
Sunday morning, so I could
Pretend to begin again.

Think of all the beginnings
Living humans have counted
Since counting began. Begin.

Roughly one hundred billion
Humans, including this one,
Have, it’s estimated, lived.

But who we’d call the first one
No one has ever agreed.
I doubt the first one counted.

That’s the thing with beginnings—
We invented them, but when
Did we create beginning

Out of the sort of living
Trees live, tossing in the winds
Passing again and again?

More than forty years ago,
A poet, Peter Payack,
Wrote a poem imagining

Everyone who ever lived
As the “ultimate party”
At his apartment. Alas,

His party was a failure,
The earliest human stabbed
In the kitchen, and the rest

All quickly following him,
Leaving their host, the poet,
With billions of dirty plates.

He ended humorously
By putting off the clean-up
Of dishes “until morning.”

Another morning, decades
And billions of lives later,
Mr. Payack lived online

In the form of a website
Touting his anarchism,
His “Stonehenge Watch” invention,

His poems and science fiction.
I, who was a boy back when
He imagined his party,

Admired him for remaining
Among the billions living
Among the dirty dishes

That no one has ever washed.
The trees bucking in the gusts
Want nothing to do with us.

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