it’s important for us to believe
we live a better life than birds.
without that faith we could not go on
we would have to give up everything
and be merely
“it could be worse…”
say the hopeful men and women
in unison, seeking reassurance,
“we could be enslaved, imprisoned,
we could be beaten down daily, without reason,
we could be in constant pain,
ill, hospitalized, with no chance of discharge,
we could be homeless
in a land that can’t be made great again.
or we could be dependent on others we do not know
and who do not care about us,
we could be wracked each moment with fear,
or anger, or unrelenting grief,
or paralyzing anxiety,
about what the future might hold
or what we might have done differently.”
I wonder, though,
if all these “worse” possibilities were to become real,
and life really was worse,
would we know, or would we just think, gratefully,
it could be worse still?
but we can’t imagine.
in the morning a bird soars overhead
singing anotherway anotherway
but we don’t hear over the noise of construction, development,
improvement of the land,
the noise of deception and distraction and propaganda,
the noise inside our own heads.
I walk out, restless, in the dark,
and pitch a tent in the deep forest,
with warm blankets and soft cushions
and rations for my sustenance
and live there, naked, not seeing another human,
and say and read and hear no words, for 60 days.
by then I cease to think in abstract terms
and learn that I am not alone and cannot be, and that
the company of my own species was just invention,
an idea we made up, together
so we would not go insane
in this life
that could be worse.