Friday, April 3, 2020

Doesn’t Matter Now

People seem to have pegged points
After which the past matters,
Earlier than which it doesn’t.

Try for yourself if you like—
Does cosmology move you?
Does the origin of life?

Of death? Of sex? Of mammals?
Do you fantasize the day
A fossil is discovered

That could be the last common
Ancestor of all the apes?
Great apes? Earliest bipeds?

Do you hold strong opinions
On whether modern humans
Had an ancestral village?

Does rock art fascinate you
Enough that you will argue
About the artists’ genders?

Do you find yourself speaking
Of farming as beginning
Or beginning of the end?

What about the Holy Books?
Cities? Civilizations?
The Colonial Era?

Have you ever wept thinking
About the gruesome details
Of the past few centuries,

Of cruelties ancestors
Did, had done to them, or both?
Somewhere back there, there’s a line

Through all the details, seeming
True enough to you, past which
Nothing matters anymore.

Other’s lines can madden you.
Those whose lines are too far back
Can’t see the facts in their face,

Ignore more present horrors,
Use the past as an escape.
Those who keep to the shallows

Remind you of Robert Frost
And his people on the beach,
Their perspectives so blinkered

They don’t see what they don’t see—
Or so it seems to you, you
Holding historical views.

Maybe some people take it—
All of it—in, all we know
Or think we can of back then—

And care for every moment,
For everything that’s happened—
But that would make gods of them

If not demons. Or have you
Wondered why we consider
Those who’ve forgotten it all,

Or almost, down to the last
Few hours, as wholly tragic
And thus innocent as well?

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