Let me graph it for you, she said
and went to find some paper
covered with those tiny boxes
all but begging to be filled in.
She came back with a ruler, a sharpened #2
and began plotting and sketching in arduous detail:
the national debt against summer wild-fires
the sword-play of currency exchange rates
student loan debt by year and generation
national healthcare costs against the loss of Arctic ice mass
the yearly cost of the Afghan War per casualty
the carbon breath of a million engines against sea level rise.
Mark Twain said there are lies, damned lies
and then statistics
but at least they are presentable
compared to screaming rants,
she said hopefully, adding
that The Real won’t be constrained by boxes;
It is inexpressible but compels expression
think of this graph as an image in depth
not only an X-axis and a Y-axis
but as an infinite number of axes
drawn through any imagined point,
axes of a fixed length describing a beach ball
or of an infinite variety of lengths describing the universe
stationary or spinning, fast or slow.
Think of the graph paper before the graphs
before the boxes, just a blank page
then as tree pulp being processed
then as a tall tree after unthinking years from seed
lying briefly in a clearcut; open, vulnerable,
indifferent to our uses and abuses.