The Unknown Of It

— Dennis Richardson

In the beginning, before B.C.,
   I don’t really know what they knew,
   this is only conjecture, only my sense of it.
   I know they felt fear for sure, fear of everything,
   how could they not, danger everywhere,
   daylight sightings, night screams the worst.
And I know they felt hunger, not knowing its name,
   not knowing there are many hungers, and they knew,
   also, something of the area where they were,
   not knowing where they were.
At some unimaginable date when sort of safe
   places were made, they knew of others, where
   they were in relation to them, whoever they were,
   the fear abiding, now afraid of the others too.
Awareness of some needs beginning to settle
   in minds they were just beginning to notice,
   communication having jumped a hurdle
   everywhere, signs appeared needing to be understood,
   misunderstanding along with not knowing
   what they understood, and now helplessness
   beginning its long-look around corners.
All of this not unlike today where we think we know
   everything going on everywhere instantly,
   still fearful though, still helpless to stop or change whatever
   follows from our not knowing, some of us safe in that,
   we think, but still the hunger and now desires, everyone’s
   desires, a strange word fraught with hunger and fear,
   new joy won and lost in the same instant,
   the Earth losing its grip on what it does so well,
   while we, in our singular worlds, watch, listen,
   worry about where it will all end, our children and
   grandchildren, known, yet unknown, still searching
   the unknown: different fears, hungers, desires,
   humanity just beginning to show its fragile face.
I think of the coming of my death, the known and unknown
   of it, look out in the back yard at all the spring colors,
   lush in their newness like children and I fear for them:
   the indifference of Nature and gravity; the demand of the lion
   for his crown; the stallion, his harem; the flock, a shepherd.

One thought on “The Unknown Of It

  1. Dennis, this is such a wondrous turn in your poetry. Your usual levity and playfulness have turned to a kind of somber and sobering candor, so sincere and honest, it is like a secret whispered between lovers in the dark. What a beautiful sentiment–our fear of the unknown is the same as out fear of death, which is after all, the greatest unknown. The last lines ("I think of the coming of my death..") brought a tear to my eye–sad at the brevity and smallness of a human life and at the same time in awe at its wonders and spring colors!

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