We have them, and live and think about them,
But then, what are they? Some seem like
Bigger deals than the rest, like those of big enchiladas
Or the CEOs of banks too big to fail, but why? Some seem
Meaningful for their commitments and accomplishments,
As no doubt they are, though most are unexceptional
And ordinary, and just fine for that. They’re all equal
In value, but what that means is difficult to say:
That each one matters more than anything
To whoever’s life it is, though each is barely real
To anyone else? The world exists before and after it,
Yet while it breathes it is the world, its world.
Whenever I attempt to gesture at it, all I find are words
For where I am: this room, this place I live. Stay with me
I want to say, yet it can’t, not because it’s unreal,
But because I am. Is what I want to say instead
That everything comes down to lives? The thought
Is true enough, but it’s a way of feeling, not explaining,
Of poetry rather than a paper. They’re real enough I guess,
Just “metaphysically thin.” But each of them is everything.

John Koethe