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The Torchbearers

We are the torchbearers.

It is our privilege to occupy

This locus on the leading edge of existence.

We are the consequence of all of history

And the foundation for all that is forthcoming.

I see you, compatriots.

I am among you.

The poets are praising

The lovers’ devotion.

The painters and sculptors are queued.

The psychics are gambling.

The shamans are tipsy.

The prophets are weighing their gold.

The farmers are dancing

The carpenters’ two-step.

The hunters’ lips purse to the reeds.

The doctors are cheering

The invalids’ artistry.

Bankers and businessmen scowl.

The ministers fall to

The feet of the faithful

And beg them for room on the pews.

The students are humming

Atonal rebellion.

The teachers nap under the trees.

The anarchists gavel

a meeting to order.

The mathematicians are late.

The lawyers are knitting

The lawmakers’ mittens.

The judges are wearing new hats.

The saints are condemning

The orphans as liable.

The convicts are sweeping the floor.

The servants are tending

Their masters’ successors.

Philosophers stare and debate.

The rebels, triumphant,

Rechristened as patriots.

Martyrs are made of their dead.

The loyalists, conquered,

Were ever the traitors.

Their widows will bear their disgrace.

The young are devising new postures of prayer.

The old men are combing their lingering hair.

Our (or another’s) grandmothers teach us,

with arthritic care,

To shelter our frolicking flames.

The climbers, runners, lifters, twirlers, marshals, felons, heroes, villains, scholars, dancers, singers, children, soldiers, sailors, donors, swindlers, mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters

Are barefoot, purring, sunburnt, yearning, leaving, cursing, kneeling, burning, blissful, fervent, stealing, nursing, nervous, brooding, pleading, flirting, sorry, weeping, thirsty, and snoring.

Some of us were passed our torches,

Lit brightly by another’s toil.

Some of us found our torches untended,

Smoldering in the darkness.

May we ever raise them to light another’s way

And find compatriots in all who do the same.

And, once our arms begin to falter under their weight,

let us deliver them dutifully and humbly into our inheritors’ hands.


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