the rate of death is directly proportional to the rate of life

Guest writer Tahimi’s poem, “the rate of death is directly proportional to the rate of life,” in The Elixir.

I am 22 years old and

hopefully, wistfully,

60 years from death.

I used to dream about

traveling the globe,

stabbing a flag into the tips

of the Himalayan mountains,

or snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef,

a school of sharks by my side.

And then she died.

And so have approximately,

55.3 million people each year,

151,600 people each day,

6,316 people each hour,

105 people each minute,

about two people per second.

Maybe they died

when they were 89 years old

right at the cusp of a nice long life.

But maybe they died

when they were only 13 years old

or 22

or five.

When I look up at the stars at night,

when I try to grab them between

my shaking fingers

I wonder if they ever got to do what they loved:

if those 55.3 million people ever lived

like they had little galaxies

of love orbiting inside of them.

The kind of love that sits in your bones,

that you feel down to your pinky toe,

that makes you stay up for hours

wondering if the distance

between each galaxy

could measure up

to how much you love his smile,

or the kind of love that makes you

lay down in the rain

in the middle of the road

on a Tuesday in September.

And at 22 I realize

I am so young,

we are so young.

And we settle for a job

or a career

applied between one inch margins

at a twelve point font

in Times New Roman.

We are too young

and the world is so beautiful

and there are dandelions

on the side of the road

that wave at you

to blow your wishes on them.

And I wonder

if at 23 I will realize that in life

the rate of death

is directly proportional

to the rate of life.

That when there’s a supernova in space

there is also a first kiss,

a first glance,

a first word.

I wonder if the secret to life

is found at a supermarket

in the middle of the night

in the cereal aisle.

Or maybe at 23 I’ll

hopefully, wistfully,

realize that our todays

will always be our tomorrows

and our tomorrows are uncertain

but the kiss from my lover

and the hug from my father

and the touch from my mother

will outlive the Himalayas

and the Great Barrier Reef.

Or perhaps I’ll be 22

wrapped in a robe

at 11:17 p.m.

on a Tuesday night

in November.

Tahimi

via the rate of death is directly proportional to the rate of life

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