There’s nothing much to say. We try, instead,
to remember how to feel. Sometimes I think
we never should have learned to count. The dead
have better ways. They lean in, head-to-head
in blue light, hanging always on the brink,
unable quite to touch, learning instead
to share the silence. Peace. We living wed
our darkest fears to our desires, a link
we never should have made. To count the dead
is to risk the loss of the lives they led
to mathematics. To forget distinct
features. Worse, to say This many instead
of No more is cowardice. We have said
enough by now of “how” and “why.” We shrink.
We lie. Perhaps it’s time to count the dead
promises we’ve piled on our pyre of dread.
To face what we have done and not to blink.
With nothing much to say, we sigh instead.
We never should have learned to count the dead.
–from The Seed Vault (2019). Reprinted by permission of Eyewear Publishing.
Lucas Jacob is the author of the full-length poetry collection The Seed Vault (Eyewear Publishing, 2019) and the chapbooks A Hole in the Light (Anchor & Plume Press, 2015) and Wishes Wished Just Hard Enough (Seven Kitchens Press, 2019). His poetry and prose have appeared in print journals including Southwest Review, Hopkins Review, and RHINO, and online in journals including Valparaiso Poetry Review, Sequestrum, and Jet Fuel Review. He is a high school teacher and writing-instruction consultant whose career has brought him many wonderful things, including the honor of serving as a Fulbright Fellow in Budapest, Hungary. His author site is http://lucasjjacob.com and he can also be found on Twitter at @Lucas_J_Jacob