In the beginning there was darkness,
then a bunch of other stuff—and lots of people.
Some things were said and loosely interpreted,
or maybe things were not communicated clearly.
Regardless—there has always been an index.
That thing about the meek—how we
shall inherit the earth; that was a promise
made in a treaty at the dawn of time
agreed upon in primordial darkness
and documented in the spiritual record.
The nature of the agreement was thus:
The world will seemingly be pushed past capacity.
A new planet will be “discovered” 31 light-years away.
Space travel will advance rapidly,
making the journey feasible. The ice sheets will melt.
Things will get ugly. The only way to leave
will be to buy a ticket. Tickets will be priced at exactly
the amount that can be accrued
by abandoning basic humanity.
The index will show how you came by your fortune:
If you murdered, trafficked or exploited the vulnerable,
stole, embezzled, poisoned, cheated, swindled,
or otherwise subdued nature to come by wealth
great enough to afford passage to the new earth;
if your ancestors did these things and you’ve done nothing
to benefit from their crimes yet do nothing to atone
through returning inherited wealth to the greater good
you shall be granted passage. It was agreed.
The meek shall stay, the powerful shall leave.
And it all shall start again.
The meek shall inherit the earth,
and what shall we do with it,
but set about putting aside our meekness?
Copyright © 2020 by Rena Priest. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 4, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.