I read over a thousand books then I was gone.
I killed many men in combat then I was gone.
I taught school for thirty years then I was gone.
I bore six children that lived then I was gone.
I carved the blocks for Khufu’s tomb then I was gone.
I slew the men and women of Troy then I was gone.
I had no marker when my breath at last joined the winds,
no stone bore my name in the desperate hope that someday
a stranger might read the markings and perhaps note
that I was here, and, for just a very short span of time
I mattered to someone; anyone, if even as merely the bearer
of joy or grief; anything to make me real against the void.
I worshipped the One True God then I was gone.
I wrote volumes of history then I was gone.
I fed the starving and healed the sick then I was gone.
I wrote songs that people still sing then I was gone.
I knew only hunger and poverty and sickness, an aching belly
and the shivering cold of a violent and never-ending night.
Then I was gone and piled into plague pits and the trenches
of potter’s fields or laid beneath the floors of towering cathedrals
in bronze coffins carved with my name and left forgotten save by
the curious tourist who never knew or remembered or cared
who I was or why I deserved distinction when uncountable others,
lying nearby, had been reduced to splintered bone fragments.
I studied the origins of space and time then I was gone.
I was born with a limited mind then I was gone.
I ruled an empire and crucified a Jew then I was gone.
I loved with passion and abandon my wife, my children,
every shade and shape and contour of my ordinary life.
I was young; I was old; my days fell like autumn leaves.
Then I was gone.
Tony Marconi has published a book of experimental fiction under the Fithian Press imprint of John Daniels, Publisher and has self-published two novels, several chapbooks of poetry and short stories, and has had more than two-dozen short stories published in local journals.
This is profound.