We remember things.  We – the royal We – remember.

You forget.  You move and change and move and always move.  And, the whole while, you are dying.  I don’t think you understand that.

But we remember.  We have nothing to lose and so we gain all that you have lost.  And we hold it, we devour it, we become it.

There is a man back east along I-80 who threw out a Pepsi can back in what you call “1984.”  We’ve slid along that can, grooming it for all of its saccharine goodness.  We’ve cleaned it of your DNA, dappled it with our own.  Now, the brute work done, the multitude of our workers gone, we leave the can to lie gently in our collection, our fingers glide over it occasionally.  We watch as the aluminum grows infinitesimally more delicate, the wind and rain taking its slow toll, the red and the blue fading.  Occasionally, one of our custodians pauses on its smooth surface to linger and watch its progress.

There was a child in Cleveland who broke a plastic plaything.  It had wings and a long nose – it was polymerized and molded to look like a Navy fighter jet.  Pinned to the underside were three stubby wheels – black plastic held between the cheap by-product of a Chinese forge.  Slag.  Dross.  No matter, the metal’s gone by now.  The child is gone – grown, left for someplace else.  The plaything was discarded back in 1979 when he had broken a wing.  We keep it now.  We’ve stored it in our collective consciousness.  Things here aren’t organized as they might be in a library or museum.  But we know where it all is.  Neurons and their synapses fire methodically.  Stony field and forest has tangled itself around tampon and milk jug.  We remember.  We are made to remember. 

There’s a man who was given to us.  Put under the ground.  He wore a black collar, was put under the earth in a box quite different from most – unfinished pine.  The pine was a quick construction and came apart easily.  The man himself didn’t last long.  You must have forgotten about him quickly.  His fingers were soft, his lips delicate.  And now, the bone.  The bone will be a while.  It will sink slowly into the earth.  He smiles now.  And you have forgotten.  He is ours.  We have become him.  He has become us.  We will show him the plaything.  The can.  And so much else.  And he will touch these things and wait to touch so much more.

from the collection of: p. botte