Mudlark No. 44 (2011)

Ode to Other People’s Realities

As far as I can tell, 
the only thing you have in common
is your dedication to remaining 
relentlessly not-me.

Is this achievement effortless,
or does it require perpetual exertion,
the drudge-song of the “other”:
“Not-Claire; Not-Claire....”
or perhaps,
“Still-not-Claire; Still-not-Claire...”?

And do you collaborate on this,
or is it every one of you for itself?

If you were even incrementally less 
different from or more similar to me,
I might have been spared 
decades of disequilibrium.

On occasion 
I’ve contemplated some kind of 
preemptive strike against you.

Other times, it’s been
“Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?.”

But lately, I’ve been losing 
interest in both of us,
turning my attention 
to the Fathomless Space Between,
first of the world’s natural wonders.

Boundlessly flexile,
it swells and contracts,
blossoms out and dwindles,
fluidly self-resculpting 
with each of our subtlest gestures.

Even the sparest slice of it serves  
to hold us apart 
no less unyieldingly 
than could every ounce of it 
ever created

(or perhaps it’s all 
by-product, so to speak?),

yet never once has it been 
seen or heard, tasted or felt.

Oh, Other People’s Realities!
I’m not much of a drinker,
since I detest the blurry sensation,
of personal dissolve—

but nevertheless, let us pause now,
and raise our hypothetical glasses,
overflowing with emptiness,
to that Fathomless Space Between—

long may it flourish, 
long prevail,
imperturbably outliving 
all of us.

Claire Bateman | Mudlark No. 44 (2011)
Contents | The Dead