The history of the world for as long as I can remember
As far as I know there really is some pattern to the
billions of poems we have left behind, you know,
the old applications for jobs we never got, clandestine
napkin messages to waitresses in the bars we drank at,
the arguments we had with our wives that ended up as
divorce documents, all those scraps of paper still orbiting
the world like greenhouse gases.
At least that’s the way I see it.
Sometimes I like to believe all those scraps, the
slices of memoirs we sacrificed for a single moment’s
clear image of the universe, they’re like those little birds
always flying synchronously together like storm clouds
in the wind, an arc or maybe not an arc but all moving in
the same direction, because all we can do is look up
to try to figure out what they mean. But we can’t.
So how about this: what if all of history is contained in
some woman you barely know, say an older woman, say
one who checks your groceries out at the local market,
who worked at Subway every Saturday of her life but caught
a break when she got hired at the store and then got
promoted to manager—which you didn’t know because,
you know, you’re busy too—which really helped because her
partner of 28 years died and she had to make it on her own,
what if all of history was defined in terms of her, everything that
ever was, and is, poured into a vessel the size of the person scanning
your cereal, hanging onto her every rotation around the earth?
Casey Killingsworth has work in The American Journal of Poetry, Two Thirds North, and other journals. His first book of poems, A Handbook for Water was released by Cranberry Press in 1995; his newest collection is A nest blew down (Kelsay Books 2021). His book Freak Show (Fernwood Press) is due out at the end of 2022. Casey has a Master’s degree from Reed College.