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Which Species on Earth is Saddest? by Dan Chiasson

It is Thursday and I am in the middle of several arguments with myself, all futile. I should be in bed even if it is eight in the morning. My hands smell of oranges. I peel them for breakfast, as I am wont to do these days. I love how easily the blade cuts through the skin, how I make continuous curls, how I can do this without really looking. For some reason I am reminded of a poem, how I have never thought of it for years until now. I am still grasping what I am trying to tell myself, if I have any say in this at all:

Which Species on Earth is Saddest?
Dan Chiasson

When we wake up in our bodies, first we weep.
We weep because the air is thick as honey.

Even the air is a body. Ours is the bottommost
and newest body, nested inside other, older ones

(though the mother’s body is repairing itself now;
there’s no trace of us anywhere on her;

why are we part of every body but our mother’s?)
Die as soon as possible, the Scriptures say.

And many do—or soon enough, as in the tales of
a swollen boy, now years ago, in farthest Africa,

who filled a grove of cherry trees with tears, then
vanished into the grove. He hides behind trees.

That’s death for you. Grief is a cherry grove.
Don’t be born at all. My friend is on fast-forward now

to reach the scene where they erase her childlessness.
She knows she hid that kid somewhere inside of her,

but where? We know nothing else except by learning:
not walking, not eating. Only to cry comes naturally.

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