The New Loneliness

By Claire Bateman

Featured Art: Rocks in the Forest by Paul Cézanne, 1890s

Remember how it was before thought balloons,
when we all pondered in one huge lumpish murk,
a supercontinent of undifferentiated cognitive matter
floating just above our heads?

Remember the era before alphabets were sorted,
hieroglyphics and cuneiform all jumbled up together,
characters resembling machine parts
tangled with runes like forked and flaming branches?

Remember life before quotation marks,
when anything could be attributed to anyone,
so there was never a distinction
between generosity and return?

Not only is the world tidier these days,
but there’s no limit to what we may accomplish
now that each of us is equipped to take things personally.

Claire Bateman is the author of WONDERS OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD forthcoming from 42 Miles Books, and eight other poetry books. She has been awarded Fellowships from the NEA, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and has received the New Millennium Writing Award (twice) and two Pushcart Prizes. She has taught at the Greenville Fine Arts Center, Clemson University and various conferences, including Bread Loaf and the Bloch Island Poetry Festival. She is also a visual artist.

Originally appeared in NOR 20.

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