We thought we were our own people for tens of thousands
of years. We thought there were others like us but who
identified with a different story: a truly other people;
but we are all the people aren't we, we the people? We
have forgotten how to be we the people, someone says.
Have we? says another. We, if we're the right we, are
the people. We can be we everyone, in the right thought.
We found our own true love when we were young, but we
didn't know why we had to do this. Hadn't we
always? And now, we don't know. Everything we
have done we can come to despise: dividing us into
the we of men and the we of women for example; and all
the other we the peoples we, the largest we, are composed of.
Can we truly be this most large we of all, all the people?
We are domestic and malicious, we are kind and empty,
we are purely stupid, sadistic, mortal, but if that, as
we replace us with ever more of us, we will never die.
I might like to die someday, someone says. I'm not sure
that I don't mind if we die. For I'm not sure what
living is, in that way that we always seem to be sure.
We who ever manipulate what we think, we kids.
We loved our mother and our father, for they watched us play
without interruption, across the long afternoon and into evening.
Then we lost each other to our new families, our most
desired we, we thought; why do we want now to find each
other again, the we of our beginning? Who do we trust the most,
as we cleave and uncleave and cleave again into successive
groups, small and large, in a time we define as us, our
history? Our time is only us. Time the substantial we,
epochal and great, as only we can see it, our particulars.
In the historical library, one reads our book. Don't
you want to know what's real? Don't you want to worship our
pitiless exclusion of the times we don't know, can't remember?
We found our shores walking across a shallow ocean
or rowing in boats. Or we just materialized alongside
the people we are most like who aren't peopleómaybe
they're people. Maybe the apes are people. And the birds,
lizards, and lilies, we say; fish and algae, the sweet other
mammals, the dear ones, the spiders and frogs. We the people,
who appeared before we were born, for some of us were always
there. We found us from before, but there was a long, raucous
before; and some of us are sad we can't remember it. We
have stories to complete, as in our long integrity, though
they aren't true. We aren't true, defining ourselves as
mammals with digits and brains attesting to our superiority
over other parts of our we, but there is no superiority
without our we, without all of us. Without us we are nothing.
Without delicate, exhalant flora we are nothing; without
mists, and stars and planets, and the creatures who live in our
bodies. We are all of us congealed into our definition of we.
We go where we liveóthere is nowhere else. We make
ourselves hats and gendered pants and skirts. We are sure
we are correct in our details; we are of our times, our
class, and our values, correct as only we know how;
and our machines excite us, so much that we consider
them us: we want them to think and act as us. We
are our body of the airplane, the computer, and the car.
We are our canon and our rebellion, but that is more
of the story we have invented that is urgent, appropriate,
and true. We are our songs and films. We are what some of us
say, that more of us choose. How could we love each other
without knowing how from our resemblant forms, our
echoing sounds? We can identify ourselves from our pastimes.
And our loves. For aren't we our loves, above all? We
hate the ones who are spontaneously different, as if
what they loved accused us of unhappiness. We divide
then; we don't know which of us are really our ethic or element.
We are changeable in our moods for we are what is. We watch
with our eyes of us the squirrel person streak across the road,
and with our hands of us we write words in a notebook
of our language. These marks as on an airplane wing blazing
are words for us to read, though some part of us can't read;
some part of us is unlettered and describes us by living.
Some part of us has no leader, no police, and no protocol.
We in that part are above us, are the us to which we'll return. We
knowing the clear-edged poem of the object we see as us,
we who act. We could never sit at this kitchen table
without our terrible and beautiful past and our poems that tell us
who we are. We know ourselves inside the extinguishable
light, but we know ourselves in another universe: we
are here by our agency, which we cannot remember. A
world like a boat passing by, and perhaps another on the dark
water. How could we stop being us, even when we leave
the jeweled cinema? We are gravely and lightfully blessed,
but we bless ourselves. We are our way, but we fight
within it and about it. We step on the fragile thread of our way,
going about with no other explanation but givenness: this
is our gift, but who or what can have given it to us except for us?
Certain Magical Acts