They say six billion people are breathing today,

and because too many years have passed

since the invention of “invention” and other ancient words,

the dead must outnumber the living by now.

That’s a lot of Sunday-afternoon musings

contending with one’s mortality,

countless sixty-year-olds surprised

—even though they knew all along—

by the stubborn shortness of the very life

they have grown weary about for its length;

volumes of love neither declared nor requited,

apologies left unsaid, unreceived,

piling up like a schoolboy’s laundry,

and gratitudes never offered, rarely accepted,

like trees cut too young or fruit not given the chance

to ripen at their own season.

Only after you have traveled far enough

will you find yourself lonely

though you share the same plight with billions others.

At the end of the day you watch the sunset

convinced this is a fractured existence

and for the first time reconsider the fall.

[July 2006]


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