At the edge of the ocean, I think I’m safe as I watch death shimmering before me.
The ocean is not death; it’s life, the primordial soup of life.
But it would be my death, a few dozen meters out in the open waters.
I can’t swim for long, not even when the brine keeps me afloat.
The sun would parch my lips, my eyelids, my eyeballs,
My tongue would swell, my throat would close,
I’d be extinguished in a day, even if
None of those flesh-eating things—sharks, eels, jellyfish—happened to me.
At the edge of history, I think I’m safe as I watch death shimmering before me.
History is not death; it’s life, the whole of life, from the primordial soup on.
But it would’ve been my death, a few dozen decades into the past.
I wouldn’t have been alive for long, not even if my mother had been a rich woman.
Childhood diseases, a broken tooth, a burst appendix,
A cut with a rusty nail, the bite of a rabid mouse,
I’d have been extinguished sooner or later, even if
None of those flesh-killing things—a man with a gun, childbirth, a fire—happened to me.
Ocean and history, both deadly beautiful nouns.
Water and iron, the most common things in the universe.
Out of them, the rest of life was forged on earth,
The rules of the game established.
In the beginning, there lived my ancestors,
Small beings with dark eyes and clenched jaws,
Who crawled on the shores and dwelled in caves,
Who dug up the earth, threw in the seeds, and lay down in their graves.
Each one of them a winner, who passed on precious genes.
Their legs marched in formation to wars.
Their arms carried rocks from the quarry.
Their hands felled trees and built bridges.
Their ears listened to the words of the prophets.
Their voices echoed the stories.
They were fighters.
I’m not a fighter.
I would’ve been drowned in Round One.
Instead, I’m alive today
And I write the stories.