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One Version of Events

ISSUE:  Spring 2001

If indeed we were allowed to choose,
we must have been mulling things over for a long time.

The bodies offered us were uncomfortable
and wore out dreadfully.

The means of satisfying hunger
sickened us.
The passive inheritance of traits
and the tyranny of organs
put us off.

A world that was meant to surround us,
was in endless decay.
The effects of causes wreaked heavy havoc on it.

Of all those fates
given to us for inspection
most we rejected
in sorrow and horror.

Questions arose such as these:
what use is there in the painful delivery
of a dead child?
And why be a sailor
who never reaches port?

We agreed to death
but not in every form.
Love attracted us,
sure, but a love
that kept its word.

The fickleness of judgments
and impermanence of masterpieces
scared us off
from the service of art.

Everyone wanted a homeland without neighbors
and to live their entire lives
in the interval between wars.

None of us wanted to seize power
or be subject to it,
none of us wanted to fall victim
to our own delusions or anyone else’s.
There were no volunteers
for tight crowds, parades,
and even less so for vanishing tribes;
but without them, history
never would have been able to march on
through centuries foreseen.

Meanwhile a goodly number
of lighted stars
had gone out and grown cold.
It was high time for a decision.

After many reservations
there finally appeared a few candidates
for discoverers and healers,
for philosophers without acclaim,
for several anonymous gardeners,
musicians, and conjurers

—though for want of other submissions
even these lives
couldn’t be fulfilled.

The whole thing
had to be rethought yet again.

We were offered
a package tour,
a journey from which we’d return
fast and for certain.

A chance to remain outside eternity,
which is, after all, monotonous
and ignorant of the concept of passing,
might never have come again.

We were riddled with doubt
whether, knowing it all beforehand,
we indeed knew it all.

Is such a premature choice
any choice at all?
Wouldn’t it be better
to let it pass?
And if we are to choose,
to make the choice there?

We took a look at Earth.
Some adventurers were living there already.
A feeble plant
was clinging to a rock
with reckless trust
that the wind would not uproot it.

A smallish animal
was crawling out of its nook
with an effort and a hope that surprised us.

We found ourselves too cautious,
small-minded, and ridiculous.

Anyway, soon our numbers began to fade.
The least patient ones went off somewhere.
Theirs was a trial by fire
—that much was clear.
Indeed, they were lighting one
on the steep bank of a real river.

were already heading back.
But not our way.
And as if they were carrying the spoils? Of what?


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