Other races have felt the terrible rush
of time’s accelerating pace;
we stack fact on fact at a furious rate—
a city of information in a thumbnail’s space.
Other generations have been pinioned
to a demonic, degenerate hour,
and left desperate monuments of stone
to survive the frail image of their power.
We build on the air, imitate Babel,
try to divine prophecy, and match our wills
against the winding down of the body’s clock
and the greed of the man wolf on the trail of his kill.
Let us speak no more of a future; instead,
let us talk of grasslands burnt by the sun,
of poisoned air, of floods and arks and rain,
and of who lost and if anybody won.
Let us wear black and tell sad stories
of the rape of Persephone,
of the mystery of the yellowed sketch of a woman
with eyes as unfathomable as the sea.
Let the sound of the muffled drum call up
the ghosts of Ulysses and his truehearted dog;
let us make a habit of homelessness, let us fly
from city to city, and turn our life into a travelogue.
Let us hide our pain, speak only of the rich,
play at lotteries, and dream of a decadent tomorrow
where our vices will be fed and our comforts
will outstrip the indignation of our sorrow.
Tell me who will follow us and take for granted
the plagues and insect storms our prophets now foresee?
Tell me, what will they say about our weapons
and about the wars we have cleansed to fit our history?
What will they say about fire that froze the air,
about the flood on the back of the earthquake,
about the seam in the wind we couldn’t seal,
or about our talk of the need to be awake?
What will they decide about the photograph,
of the man in white under a palm tree
with features like stone in a sun-beaten world,
or about the parable of the sailor’s journey?
Certainly others will come, survivors of our time,
but what will they think of our death wish,
of our destruction of the garden;
or of our political need to be selfish?
What have we done, and where is our outcry?
What death scenes are buried in our minds,
and who are we if not our children’s children,
the recurrent travelers of a shifting mankind?