THE ICEBERG IN FUTURE RETROSPECT
by C. B. Auder
Because we swim small in a twinkling expanse, we should cling to the icy crystals of fact: The screech and gouge might last for decades, but hardly forever. The smash won’t topple individuals so much as dance through generations. The Earth itself has weathered metaphors far more titanic. And it’s unlikely the lower animals will sense climate change at all!
“Rumpus?” our descendants will ask with a slurp.
“Yes, don’t you hear that hull-buckled mania?” we’ll cry. “The sloshing tilt of despair?”
“Umm. No?” They’ll offer us hoagies.
We’ll decline. Our fuel this time must be exasperation! We’ll cup an angry ear towards the past and gesture for them to follow suit.
Directing the soft curves of our mind onto faded memories of panic, we’ll prod and poke. Try to awaken the old sting—kindle our urgent, childlike hopes: Maybe this time we’ll catch only sweetly drowning whispers and a fish-lipped kiss?
Our companions will grow confused, become concerned for our well-being.
And how exasperating we’ll find that naiveté—the oh-so-convenient deafness of their youth!
“There. There.” We’ll stab our recollection towards the ratty picnic blanket of events long gone. “That there.”
“Jesus Tapdancing Christ.” We’ll take two gelatin shots. “Don’t you hear those dusty scuffles for water rights? The chainsaw growls of famine? The human-smothered coasts being scraped and scoured clean? That incessant bleat of Ponzi schemes?”
“Oh. That.” Our descendants will pop the tomato cherries and chew. They’ll squint hard into their history. Try to flood themselves with caution, wisdom, concern.
That’s when we must make our move—jab them with the carrot sticks, the need to stay in touch with eye-opening roots.
They’ll sip a to-go bag of soup, munch a flotilla of chips.
But we will press on. On and on! Over the coleslaw and through the meringue—until they grow weary enough to comply. Until they cross their hearts and hope to recall all the details they should have learned of our lives. The triple-expansion steam engines, the state-of-the-art telegraphy. Lavish ballrooms and tinkling chandeliers. Turkish baths, jolly lounges, sweaty squash courts. Snooker competitions waged on solid decks of teak. Our enormous bulkheads—
“And don’t forget the hulking polar bears!” they’ll chirp, finally sated and fired up. “Oh, what fierce beasts they must have been, when they still pawed wild at the tundra.”
We’ll ease our grip and sigh. Lie back in the dark, bundled up together. Share humble comfort in the same ancient stars. Each of us imagining the depth to which we care—about a majestic vessel they never knew, this mindlessly-floating marvel we have somehow already lost.
Otter by day and even odder by night, C. B. Auder has micromanaged a full-time pursuit as a perambulating ecosystem for nearly half a century, which is as exhausting as it sounds. Auder’s recent work can be found in Random Sample Review, 3Elements Review, Jersey Devil Press, and Queen Mob’s Teahouse. Follow Auder’s tweets on Twitter at @cb_auder.
Image credit: Anders Jildén on Unsplash