Anne Frank Once Wrote: A Poem From Our Own

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Lisa Gray

How will the world end? In her poignant poem, Jillian Rowell shows poetry’s power to connect and to heal.

Jillian Rowell, Guest Writer

Anne Frank once wrote “Dead people receive more flowers than the living ones because regret is stronger than gratitude.”

 

Some say the world will end in fire,

in anger, in hatred,

in climate change, in war,

in the wake of our own destruction,

everything we loved burning orange around us,

unknowing or uncaring.

 

We are human, 

laughing in the face of danger,

only masquerading as adults,

entranced by flames 

as a moth is drawn

to light.

 

Some say the world will end in ice, 

the voids in our souls,

the gaps in our knowledge,

the poison in our minds,

the beauty of our world,

the differences of our civilizations,

preserved in the translucent cold forever.

 

We are human,

finding the eye of the hurricane,

the calm in the storm,

the order in the chaos,

ethereal and messy,

dreaming and hoping and praying 

that it is enough,

that we

with our minds

and our hearts

and our souls

are enough.

 

Some say the world will never end;

all empires think themselves eternal.

That is, until they fall.

Life and death are not opposites,

merely two sides of the same coin:

a beautiful lie and an unforgiving truth.

We are surrounded by death and dead things.

We are being hosted, nothing but guests at the table.

Eventually, dinner will end and we will be ushered out the door.

And thus, the reign of humanity will end, 

the end of an era beginning the next

as they always do.

 

We are human,

not eternal,

not invincible,

but inevitable

and enchanting.

Simply balanced,

but not simple at all.

 

Perhaps the Earth will die with no one on it,

left abandoned in our haste to explore the cosmos.

The sunshine we once basked in, 

and the warmth we once loved

engulfing our home planet in a cocoon of flames 

as the sun reaches its fiery tendrils out for one last embrace.

 

We are human,

surrounded by painted skies,

and colored wind, 

and majestic mountains, 

and lush valleys,

flowing rivers and lakes and waterfalls,

and birds and grass and trees,

by clouds and rain and rainbows and leaves,

by the shore and the sea and the waves.

By silence in nature, from trees bigger and older than ourselves.

By flowers and weeds,

plants and animals,

dawn and dusk,

love and light,

sunflowers facing the sun,

and tides pulled by the moon.

 

Perhaps the world will end in the wake of normalcy, 

and no one will know it was ending until it does,

in happiness, in laughter,

in joy, in celebration.

In hate, in love,

with too little or too much.

Everyone comfortably on the verge of shattering, 

blissfully ignorant of the impending avalanche.

And as the night goes on, 

no one can help thinking that everything seemed normal 

just hours before.

 

We are human,

birthing and burying,

living and dying,

singing and dancing,

laughing and crying.

We are human,

whooping and hollering,

busy and bustling,

bitter and sweet,

existing and experiencing,

earning and learning

in a lively circus of personalities,

feeling so much we should be numb.

 

Perhaps whatever deity is out there will simply blink the world out of existence

and the world will end in stories,

as ours comes to an end.

Nothing but a book being shut,

a curtain falling on a stage,

a song ending in silence,

as we are finished and put on a shelf

to live on for eternity 

in the library of the universe.

Ever-expanding,

forever being written and rewritten,

broken and mended,

lost and found,

full of unrealized potential 

and then some.

 

We are human,

stories for the ages,

ones for the books,

terrified of being destined to be forgotten.

 

Perhaps instead of a library, the universe is a garden,

and the world ends in growth,

as the tree of life is pruned

and our branch 

cast off.

 

We are human,

with our high expectations,

the sun rising on our beginning 

and setting on our end.

Perfection is among the few true impossibilities of this world;

it only makes sense our end be imperfect too.

 

Or perhaps the world will end slowly,

painfully,

and the stars will fall from the sky.

Whatever god or deity that is out there will just rewrite the world

ripping the fabric of the universe

only to rebuild it again, bending it to their will

from scratch, like a lump of clay.

No memory of its past and no awareness of its future.

And the world will erupt in light,

the sky split in half,

burning beautiful bright

onlookers conflicted over whether to gasp in awe

or horror

as everything happens all at once,

as we are part of something far greater,

vaster,

than ourselves

as a new world rises like a phoenix 

from the ashes of its twin.

Creating as we do, 

bored as we are,

it only makes sense that our creator be the same.

The opposite of creation may not be destruction,

but change.

 

We are human,

trying to find the meaning of life,

eyes trained on the skies, the heavens, 

wondering and questioning and commenting,

mouths moving and tasting, speaking and smiling, singing and kissing.

We are skipping stones and sipping lemonade,

splashing water and playing games,

sewing clothes and picking flowers and painting toes,

daydreaming on road trips and looking through books

flipping through albums and reliving history,

making new friends 

and calling old ones,

and hugging families,

reminiscing on the past 

and hoping of the future.

We are innocence and open minds,

community and the essence of being,

culture and luck,

fate and destiny,

and captured memories, like fireflies in a jar,

and beautiful strangers and breathless laughter,

making the world just that tiny bit brighter.

We are small and yet

our dreams are big,

thinking and remembering and doing,

hands moving and playing, twisting and holding,

legs moving and jumping, leaping and skipping, twirling and dancing,

We are falling in love and out of it,

with stars in our eyes and worlds in our heads and love in our hearts,

breaking and healing, and beating and loving 

in functioning bodies, that do as we command.

Creators, inventors, optimists and pessimists and realists,

writers and artists, animators and scientists, 

workers and individuals,

and people, all people,

and similar in our differences

and small, and temporary,

but real, and amazing,  

and living and laughing, 

and changing and imagining, and feeling and celebrating,

and breaking and healing 

and belonging,

and being and existing, 

and that 

that is enough.

 

Some say that the word will end in pieces,

in grieving, in sobs,

as people die 

but their memory remains 

and people weep over the body,

saying the world is ending,

that the Earth stopped spinning,

but it didn’t, not really,

just a piece,

just theirs.

A wrench in the gears,

like clockwork,

tick tock,

tick tock,

tipped axes and swirling time and hushed clocks,

among small infinites and big temporaries,

nothing permanent,

just convenient 

and finite.

 

We are human,

forgetting and remembering,

trying to be immortal in the minds of others,

trying to do something worthwhile,

with our grieving hearts,

and tarnished memories,

and our believing lives, swiftly lived,

not broken just bent.

We are grenades, exploding

reliving through minds’ eyes,

longing to time travel, to tesser 

to smooth out a wrinkle,

just a wrinkle,

in time.

 

Perhaps we will know when the world will end and so it shall,

in misery, in sorrow, in dread,

in wallowed regrets and loss,

in what-ifs and what-could-have-beens,

and whys

wanting closure that will never be received, a longing never satisfied,

because we will die as we lived and that is to say 

innocently curious

and heartbreakingly human.

Among entirely unimportant frenzied wonderings,

and blessings and curses,

recalling ghosts of enemies and lovers,

and faded opinions,

knowing each moment may be their last good one

on this cruel and unique planet, 

with an undoubtedly foreshadowed ending.

People drinking in the sight of the world,

our world,

and gobbling up the last of their consciousness,

hoping to satisfy their cravings in the afterlife but knowing

deep down

it will never be enough.

And then,

with the moon hosting overnight,

dawn tinged with shadow,

evening dotted with light,

lying in wait of the big sleep 

dancing on the knife’s edge between 

unconsciousness and existing and being,

on the brink of unraveling,

in more ways than one.

With a valiant effort as some still don’t believe,

in an unearned victory but a well-earned defeat,

time slowed and quickened

all at once

in sound, in silence.

And for one unobstructed moment,

before the world’s last breath,

for the first time in its long, exhausting history 

there was peace.

 

We are human, 

wanting comfort,

craving safety,

finding solace.

Delicate heartbeats,

comforting trance. 

Maybe we are all just ticking time bombs

wielding no power

just dread

watching as our timers count down 

but carrying on

regardless.

 

Perhaps the world will end in the sky,

as we are returned to the cosmos,

where we were born we shall die,

our bodies becoming constellations,

our stories forever written in the stars,

if anyone is willing to look up and see them.

And as stars are born,

and supernovas implode,

we can rest easy with the knowledge of

our legacy being imprinted 

among the backdrop of inky black, 

and a starry night, 

as alien gossip.

 

Anne Frank once wrote “Dead people receive more flowers than the living ones because regret is stronger than gratitude.”

But what if there’s no one left to mourn?