I, Human

I, Human, was sprung from mammal stock, And in that springtime of my life I learned to walk and talk; I grew a view, and much I knew: I fashioned tools from rock. I, Human, was sprung from mammal stock. A sapiens, like the others, I was strong through skill and stone; I learned the methods with my hands which proved to bring reward. I also learned the language, a device to make things known -- Not understood -- and it was good, with nature in accord. I, First Man, was summoned by the One To start the summer of my life -- my infancy was done. Free will, self knowledge, consciousness, in me were now begun; I, First Man, was summoned by the One. They called me to a garden (I say "they" not "he" nor "she" Because, though one, the One was greater than a multitude). And when they called, I made a choice, my first choice which was free: I chose to go, of my free will, not just my attitude. Arriving at the garden, though I know not how nor where, My mind began to open to new thoughts and views and words. And, long, the One and I discussed these thing in sounds we'd share, Progressing from the garden to the beasts and bugs and birds. I named each thing with brand new words which changed with every use So sharing information was both complex and quite quick. The more I named, the more distinctions: words came fast and loose, Resulting in a deadlock nouns alone could not unstick. More words! Now verbs, then adverbs! adjectives! and on it went, Till sentences appeared, with structure, grammar, style and tense; Yet, through it all, my stock of sounds was by and large unspent, While, more and more, the things I said expressed a deeper sense. But in this kinder garden, one deep sadness did I find: The more I thought of other things, the more, myself, I found, Which sent a flash of insight coursing through my budding mind, Producing self-awareness, and then loneliness, profound. The moment after feeling this emotional distress, My heart awoke, as if from having slept until this thought, To find her there, with whom I'd shared, but in unconsciousness -- One flesh, one path, two choices matched: the mate we each had sought. Exulting in this insight, individual yet paired, We sat and watched each other as the day drew to its close. When evening came, we listened just as closely as we'd stared, To breathing and our heartbeats, and each movement, head through toes. Awake all night, devoid of sight, observing every sound, New words occurred to recognize and make them understood. As dawn arrived, anew we thrived on seeing all around And naming every body part we saw, and it was good. Amidst the many things we'd seen and heard and given name, The One continued gently, with a presence sure as air, A necessary being, yet unnoticed all the same: Then, when they spoke, our minds awoke to know that they were there. "Do tell me, little children, of the things which you have seen," The One inquired, and we, inspired, made parallel replies, Describing how each other's selves' discoveries had been, Along with those external things we'd held with ears and eyes. And then, we two at once said, "You!" to indicate the One, As one more thing we'd learned about, to fill each growing head. They answered "Me?" and struck dumbfounded both our mouths like none: The weight the answer carried from this Life made us seem dead. Now, earlier, before we saw each other as discrete, The One had told us of some trees whose fruits would help us grow, All fashioned in a form so simple we'd need just to eat In order to expand our senses, selves, and what we'd know. Among these trees were two which drew attention from the rest: The first would bring eternal life to those who ate its fruit; The second was forbidden us, a fact the One well stressed -- To eat from it brought deadly knowledge of an absolute. We now recalled this fact, because the One began to speak, Perhaps to ease the tension which ensued from their reply. "In many ways, this garden will provide the things you seek; Who cares to learn must learn to care -- all comes to those who try." And so, enthusiastic to continue to expand, We chased the garden's secrets and pursued its care with zeal, Yet always being careful to observe the One's command, And not make perfect knowledge fruit become our final meal. I, Madman, gratuitously fell, As in the Autumn of my life, I chose to cheaply sell The garden, closeness with the One, my joy -- exchanged for hell. I, Madman, gratuitously fell. Despite the many pleasures that our lovely garden held, A certain fascination drew attention to that tree Whose consequences stemming from its fruits should have repelled, But somehow pulled and held our thoughts, and never set them free. So taken were we by the concept of this anti-plant, The one negation which we knew, the "not" of "thou shalt do", That many other fruits were missed as "I don't care", not "can't", Including life eternal's fruit, a fact we'd deeply rue. We tried to not get near to it, I hope you understand; Throughout this fascination, distance was our best defence To carefully observe the One's inscrutable command, Yet always with discomfort which felt something like suspense. I think I'll always wonder if we really had to break, If all the weight we thought we felt was truly all it took, If nothing would have happened had it not been for that snake, If we'd have fallen for the bait had not the tree been shook. Oh, yes, that nasty reptile went and shook the tree but good, So, many fruits fell from its branches, covering the ground, And then it gestured widely like it wished it understood That we should see this fruit as equal to all those around. "It's true," said she, to it and me, "that fruit which falls on land Sometimes may rot, or harbour things we'd rather not consume, And yet, it comes from places which produce what isn't banned, Except that tree, whose fruit you'd see result in sudden doom." The snake, as to pretend it ate the fruit, then bobbed its head; Then, in convulsions, writhing much, it seemed in great distress, And, all at once, it ceased to move, appearing to be dead. We went to look, when, UP! it jumped -- three people high, I'd guess. Now hanging from a branch, up in the tree we would eschew, The snake's head reached yet higher, like a growing deity. Next, through an arc it swung its head, and smacked a fruit, which flew Too fast to think, or even blink, or choose to let it be. It thusly was to reach her hand, which closed without a thought, Awaiting her examination once she grasped the fact. Our minds worked hard to understand just what the snake had wrought; Till she proposed this reason for the snake's eccentric act: "Perhaps it thinks the One had reasons other than they said; Perhaps it means it's only our imaginations' fear That eating of this fruit would bring us death; perhaps instead Consuming it would make our limitations disappear." Not being one to contradict, but rather to explore, Aloud, I wondered if the One had even meant it so, If choosing on our own entailed preparedness for more, And, eating it, maturity to merit what we'd know. Bobbed up and down, that snake's head did - it seemed that it agreed With every passing reason which obscured the One's command, Convincing us that eating of the fruit was good indeed In order to grow wiser, and have power on demand. "I'm feeling hungry, anyway; it's time that we were fed. Besides all that, you must admit, here's one nice looking fruit." Said she. Said I, "Not only that, but, let's not be mislead: Some residue'd get eaten from your hand -- the point is moot." Conspiring thus, with clouded minds, and reason bent to fit, We spiralled ever deeper to the act, with guts that stung And pounding hearts, until we landed firmly in the pit, Wherein she ate the fruit she held, while I got one which hung. Indeed, our eyes were opened -- just like eggs, untimely hatched, As truth pulled wide our budding minds and showed us perfect strength. Material and finite, though, we found ourselves unmatched With absolutes requiring stretches, infinite in length. No thing could ever meet our lofty standards from then on; Perfection, the perspective whereby everything was judged, Made all we saw seem wanting, weak, and flawed -- our joy was gone, A fact we'd not forget, as through a messy world we trudged. Of course, our bodies' features differentiating us As he and she seemed more like frailties than strengths, thenceforth, So, stifling looks we quickly took some fig leaves, with much fuss, And covered over all uniquenesses, both south and north. Just then, as fate would have it, came the One, in glory vast, As with our heightened senses, their perfection we now sensed. We hid ourselves to hide our faults, and hoped they'd move on past, But, with the snake, were caught, and then got big-time get-thee-hence'd. I, Old Man, have lived a short, cold life, Though, by descendants comforted, and shared with my dear wife, It's been a dark, sad winter, replete with faults and strife. I, Old Man, have lived a short, cold life. Since standing up for what I chose, I've always stood alone, Supported by my ego, and perfection's heartless drive; Though all my growth's been measured by the absolute I've known, Refusal to renounce this goal is what's kept me alive. Nine-hundred-thirty years, though, surely brought time to reflect On what occurred, and what was said, and what all these things meant; I'd glady share it with you now, I hope you won't object, Because I'd like to pass it on before my life is spent. That good-and-evil knowledge of perfection which I gained, I know I wasn't ready for, yet think I could have been, If only, from the tree of endless life, I had obtained A meal to take my finite state and make its end unseen. Now, please, don't miss my meaning: it was wrong to disobey, But I suspect the One just might have wished us to secure Non-finitude through time untied, to make it then okay To eat the fruit of perfect truth, and make its image sure. You see, there is a limit to a finite being's sight For detail, circumscription, or prediction that's exact: No matter how you squint or rule or think, it won't be right, Since finitude prevents the acquisition of a fact. Another limitation which perfection introduced Was focusing intentions far beyond the growth at hand. However, we could never self-exceed -- we'd be reduced By curvature of learning -- sentient gravity's demand. Ten million generations come and gone would be the same, Unable to control or count all known reality, Yet, if one endless being, to this limitation came, They'd, out of time, exceed it with applied infinity. And were I such a being, though still infinitely less Than that sole One who brought me forth, I'd still have known the truth, But known it like a lover, not like peeking up a dress, And spent my life, with her and them, in one eternal youth. Now, don't despair, for here's the catch: we've passed the torch to you Plus every other human, all descended from us two, So, though it burns and draws you on, inside, you seek what's true; You'll never trap perfection, yet perfection clings to you! I, Dead Man, was buried in the ground, Was eaten by small creatures, had my matter scattered round; While thoughts and seed and consciousness I had grew more profound. I, Dead Man, was buried in the ground.
Copyright © 1995, Reg Harbeck, all rights reserved.

Return to Reg Harbeck's Home Page