Even Bees Know What Zero Is
by Christian Wiman
That's enough memories, thank you, I'm stuffed.
I’ll need a memory vomitorium if this goes on.
How much attention can one man have?
Which reminds me: once I let the gas go on flowing
after my car was full and watched it spill its smell
(and potential hell) all over the ground around me.
I had to pay for that, and in currency quite other than attention.
I’ve had my fill of truth, too, come to think of it.
It’s all smeary in me, I’m like a waterlogged Bible:
enough with the aborted prophecies and garbled laws,
ancient texts holey as a teen’s jeans, begone begats!
Live long enough, and you can’t tell what’s resignation, what resolve.
That’s the bad news. The good news? You don’t give a shit.
My life. It’s like a library that closes for a long, long time
—a lifetime, some of the disgrunts mutter—
and when it opens opens only to an improved confusion:
theology where poetry should be, psychology crammed with math.
And I’m all the regulars searching for their sections
and I’m the detonated disciplines too.
But most of all I’m the squat, smocked, bingo-winged woman
growing more granitic and less placable by the hour
as citizen after citizen blurts some version of
“What the hell!” or “I thought you’d all died!”
and the little stamp she stamps on the flyleaf
to tell you when your next generic mystery is due
that thing goes stamp right on my very soul.
Which is one more thing I’m done with, by the way,
the whole concept of soul. Even bees know what zero is,
scientists have learned, which means bees know my soul.
I’m done, I tell you, I’m due, I’m Oblivion’s datebook.
I’m a sunburned earthworm, a mongoose’s milk tooth,
a pleasure tariff, yesterday’s headcheese, spiritual gristle.
I’m the Apocalypse’s popsicle. I’m a licked Christian.