Does the Document Promise?

—for Steve Siegel, in remembrance

Crying onto the documents doesn't make for very good metadata

Do you believe me when I tell you I am crying while I type this poem?

"The introduction of writing does not teach us how to remember better, just gives us an excuse to forget," said the Pharaoh to his scribe upon presentation of the new invention

All the tenses of this earth are wrong today

Wondering if everything in heaven will be searchable or whether it will be like totality

No need to search because everything is known instantly, all good and cruel deeds like angels on the head of a pin, even stupidity, because it is part of knowing

Crying into the file folders, documents remind us everything will one day be lost or ruined or totally without context

What will become of promises, and do things also make promises?

Does the document promise?

I would like the tense of the promise to be the tense of the poem I am dedicating to you, just as soon as I've written it

For, as the artist Jerome Caja says in reference to his many friends and lovers who died of AIDS: "I don't do stuff for the dead. I keep promises."

Now that everything becomes retrievable—notwithstanding totality—I am crying into the index, soaking it with tears

I am crying into a pattern of search and retrieval and losing everything because you can't be here.

Copyright © 2012 by Thom Donovan. Used with permission of the author.