by Frederick Pollack
The Art of the Probable
As deserts spread, and the need
for any walk depends
on how much water you’ll need
to make it, the trope of Sun
as, what was it? truth, sensuality,
moderation, something Greek,
will cease to appeal. Already
Siberian shamans no longer mention
ice. Fire won’t symbolize
anything ever again in
Australia. And you know what the oceans
are up to. When the current
plague ends and crowds return
to theaters, the Sylvia Plath Story
with a sexier title will fill the screens
but no one will imitate her. Rather,
a New Impersonality
will rule the workshops –
so dry and intimidating
all poets will believe in it.
The Governor lifts social distancing and
we go out. We meaning
myself, my kids and the little woman.
She allows me one beer, I have three, but driving
home won’t be a problem.
I recognize everyone there, though not by name,
and wave my glass or the meat at the end
of my fork at other noisy tables.
We’re a brave, oppressed minority.
Some belong to the megachurch, but I don’t
need Jesus to be successful; I’m
good. Like my kids, misbehaving,
shrieking after weeks indoors;
there’s a new thing, an inflammation
engineered in some Jew lab, but they
won’t get it, they’re good.
Like my wife with her one glass of wine.
Two weeks later I die
in a hospital hallway among
the damned, the unlucky.
In the camp there was a philosopher
of science. We met at the evening meal.
This was while they were still letting us
talk, and feeding us.
“If I were a poet,” he said, “I’d try
to express my reasoning about
how I got here, what they’re doing, and my
perception of their reasoning.
Even if only on a scrap of paper.
It’s possible that the quantum realm
saves patterns, structures that could be expressed
in math. But the other stuff
you deal with – love etc.,
pain – are a corrupt batch of code.”
“Well, I don’t have a scrap of paper,”
I said, “or anything to write with.
But given what you say,
doesn’t the universe record the logic
anyway? Or does the effort
of writing somehow make it more
accessible?” “Possibly not,” he said.
“In which case you’re unimportant.”