I’m Sorry. There’s No Record of Your Birth or Death


That’s my byline.  Sitting under a juniper, my back suffering death by a thousand cuts from cheatgrass.  Swallows, ravens cut darting arcs overhead.  Ants lay trail up and down my arm, scurrying across this very ink as I write this down.  Horseflies strafe.  Swifts titter in the incessant wind.  A jumping spider on a stone.  A lizard shelters under the shadow of the bend in my knee.

Millions of aspen and gambel oak, of mountain mahogany and ponderosa, toss and roar in the wind.  Each thing endowed with a life as important to itself as mine is to me.  A hummingbird drops out of warp to see if I’ll yield a sip of nectar, but I wear no red.  We stare at each other in a mutual stance of startled curiosity before it uploads to warp once again.

None of the trillions of creatures that are, will be or have been, save for the cats and dogs and people, have names or histories.  We stake our turf in eternity with headstrong headstones or our names on hospital wings, or maybe with a wall on facebook.  We claim to know heavens and hells and carve out the souls that will occupy them.  Yet what of the bee that hovers over a crop of limestone beneath my boot?  Does it, too, subsist on eternal nectar?  Or shall it be consigned to a smothering nonbeing after its expiration date?  Or, perhaps, end up in hive heaven while I take a hard right into a paradise meant only for saints with two legs?

Migrating in and out of bodies in an endless bardo of recycled psyche, those trillions die without a single mourner.  Namelessness represents the only true immortality, for that which does not bear a name passes beyond memory?  History is a tyrant which determines, which forecloses all other possibility.   And so a being with a name and a birth certificate has a history attached, and is a doomed creature.  And yet, without a certificate of birth or death, the species called anonymous amongus enjoy the miraculous potential of forever.

© 2014 by Michael C. Just