Every cell in my body has been replaced
many times, my books tell me,
until not one atom remains
of the original me
and this simulacrum in my shape
may contain molecules that once
belonged to Jesus or Hitler or Homer
or W.C. Fields.
I’d like that ― I mean,
if it were W.C. Fields.
Neither this fading map to nowhere
we call memory
nor this firefly lost in the Grand Canyon
we call consciousness
can tell us anything useful,
we’ve been set adrift without oars or compass,
yet despite the endless duplications
something singular persists,
something that thinks it has a right
to speak with a capital “I,”
something that thinks it thinks
though scarcely ever finishing a thought.
If this half-withered tree
rooted in the earth and slowly
bending to return to it
is my life
then I am a mist in the tree,
in it and of it and indivisible from it
yet also somehow apart from it.
There are many who say they know
what happens to the mist when the tree dies,
but this question has always
been above my pay grade,
and anyway it’s so foggy
I can’t see a thing.
By Leila Farjami