But maybe you’re OK with there being no beginning. Here’s
a story: a terrible thing happened in our town. The facts are in
dispute, though, so anything I’d say about it would most likely
be wrong or at least characterize it wrong, and what I’m thinking
about right now isn’t about the terrible thing, anyway, but a detail
of the fallout. A local veterinarian came under fire for supporting
one side, and firing a family member of the other side, causing all
sorts of the kind of backlash one would expect, until it came out
that this was a misunderstanding and it didn’t happen that way,
which reminds me that if you took all of humanity across all the
ages—an estimated 106 billion—and put them in a huge pile, it
wouldn’t cover the Grand Canyon. Not even a significant fraction
of it. Sometimes I get this vision of us as only the pile of us, that
we’re not what we think or dream. But who wouldn’t like to
think that we are? How I like to think that when I’m home, after
a couple drinks or something, that I’m in some other, truer space
thinking and dreaming. But we keep becoming how we’re recorded.
What we do. The actions we perform. But, given that I’m living
in a town that just went through a terrible thing, and someone was
at fault for a crime, and I don’t have the information I need to form
a plan of action, you know? “I’m not going to give you all the
information,” the universe says, “then I’m going to demand you
act.” Pain trumps everything. It’s April, graduation week and a
guy named Keeton Briggs decided to do a backflip while he was
on stage getting his diploma and he landed on his face, so that for
the rest of his life he’s the guy who fell on his face at graduation.
He’ll get a special cake at the reunion. Maybe a ribbon. There
will be a little banner saying Welcome Home Face Plant Guy.
John Gallaher is the author of five books of poetry, including Your Father on the Train of Ghosts (with G.C. Waldrep, 2011), and In a Landscape (2014), as well as two chapbooks, and two edited collections, The Monkey and the Wrench (with Mary Biddinger) and Time Is a Toy: the Selected Poems of Michael Benedikt (with Laura Boss). His poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry, Poetry, Boston Review, Chicago Review, and elsewhere.