The Reduction


Inside the hourglass, beating against the curvature, your fists
rage protest as the last granuled layer readies its escape. 
Outside, the assembly gathers for final review, the world
immediate to you, measures your life in concise comments. 
Even in your death they measure you against themselves. 
Throwing their arms wide apart, outstretched, from the
widest fingertip to widest fingertip: your timeline. 
One measures from tips of fingers to crook of elbow
“I knew him ten years, a very able and decent man,” 
another points, from fingertips to centered chest
“I knew him half his life, a quiet man, complicated.” 
They knew but a breadth of the length of your days. 
They gather delicate, your entirety, and shift you
from hourglass to scales, holding in tiny balance
your life, proffered in sparse, colloquial phrases, 
they cup their hands to feebly forward a depiction: 
cotton ball, to absorb your thousand heaving sighs, 
beaker, to draw the ocean-expanse of your dreams, 
teaspoon, to swallow easily your crestfallen tears, 
thimble, to contain the vastness of your thoughts, 
candle, to encapsulate your eye-witnessed sunrises. 
Painting peaks and valleys in small frame vignette
they abridge your million hopes, regrets, and loves
then deliberate your downsizing with the minister, 
whose preposterous task is to make you bite-size; 
they negotiate your reduction for the obituaries, 
choosing smallest over largest because of cost. 
You: diminished summary, an epigram, a digest, 
packaged prettily so as to handle cautiously. 
Were you ever simply? Were you ever only
As the final grains hasten their exit, an
utterance is made as eulogy, the
mysterious miracle of you in
brevity, a byline whisper. 
The last particles of sand  
descend. You protest: 
I was not simply. 
I was not only. 
You never