Once upon a time, someone taught man
That he is at his smartest when he
Extracts the ready facts from a narrative
So as to fashion them into worksheets
And talking points for discussion.
And this he has done proudly ever since,
Having scarcely noticed that it has cost him
The ability to look past the facts he gathers
In order to perceive the import of the story
From which he gathers them.
He can tell you all about it,
Except for what it means.
And so far, he counts this a fair tradeoff,
For it has enabled him to cast off
The age-old concern of story
The proper ordering of the world,
Both without and within―
Supplanting it easily enough with the
Academic parlor tricks from which he can
Draw the applause of that obliging audience
Of which he himself is the principle part.
And really, who needs meaning when
He is already full of himself?
Moreover, who can chance it
To look past those facts and
Perceive the very story he fears
Might reveal his emptiness?
Aloof, he uses the facts
With which to keep the story at bay―
The details to shield himself
From the meaning
And the busyness of it all
As a stand-in for accomplishment
All of this,
When what the human soul
Had always needed the very most
Was but to listen and try to tell it back.