Count, by Nancy Posey

Nancy Posey

Mathematically morbid, we tally the number
lost, marking each life with a chair, a cross,
a stone—at Oklahoma City, Columbine,
the Pentagon. We sometimes sacrifice
precision for effect. Shakespeare was not
the first, after all, to overstate the odds
when the” happy few,” that “band of brothers”
came up against the French and won;
nor can we know for sure the dead that day,
since, we are told, the French only counted
their noble dead. (Is that why they call them
counts?) Does it matter to the living, to the
dead? Still we seek to comprehend, in grade
school celebrating the hundredth day with
a hundred things, marbles, cookies, pencils.

How, then, can we wrap our minds around
the count:
eleven million dead,
six million Jews,
a quarter million Roma,
1.5 million children,
give or take?
Somewhere in Tennessee, children fill a rail
car with eleven million paperclips to try to
understand, while somewhere else, Darfur
perhaps, just now, one more child dies.

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