93% of all people who ever lived are dead.
That’s where all the interest lies,
In these distinctions, where you end and I begin,
Where desire ends and truth begins
We would like to think
That all this pain and effort
Amount to something, some significance,
Look in the graveyards
New monuments, crisply carved
Clearly marked and maintained,
But in the back, in the neglected back,
Names have been eaten away by time
The years barely visible, lives
Beyond recall, legends cracked asunder
Meaning refined to an evening’s diversion
And what of those millions laid away
In hallowed ground, whose boundaries themselves
Richard III beneath a parking lot,
Unnamed hordes secreted
In undiscovered ground
All that remains is a chance encounter
With a backhoe
A few trinkets, some smears of bone,
Arms askew, jaws agape,
Some squabbles of finery.
All joy, grief, each betrayal,
Every discovery, disillusion, scheme,
Disappointment, anguish, anxiety,
Good or evil,
Anger, confusion, contempt,
Despair and anticipation,
Love gained, love lost,
Labor begun and unfinished,
Pride, shame, regret,
Desire and revulsion,
Dribbled out into the mute clay.
What were they doing
The day it all stopped?
What anxious thought,
What dream of victory or defeat,
Was cut in that knife edge?
Then, days, years of grief,
Until even the will to remember fades
When did the last person who knew
The burial ground himself succumb,
And lay beneath other, fresh soil
Already queued up to be forgotten?
“People of the wind” is the term Afar nomads use to refer to the transient migrants, refugees, and wanderers through their lands, who come and disappear without a trace.