The Place

Marty Wollner, 04-May-2001


I am haunted by a place I have never been to

I guess it takes place in the future

After we must have had an apocalypse or two

Or maybe the Earth just couldnít take any more

The air is an acid mist with a very strong ammonia smell

Everyone is blind and their lungs burn with every breath

Nobody can move more than a few steps

Only a few have survived over the years as mutants

Who can somehow gain nourishment from an electric current

That has formed between the thick still mist and the sea

There is no more land and nobody remembers it

Everyone lives in small families, drifting aimlessly on pods

The ocean is caustic vat that burns to the touch

Nobody knows where the pods came from

But there are only a fixed number of them

They are all very small and precious, our one any only possession

Everyone must hold on to their pod at all times

Or they will fall in when an occasional wave comes by

Old people die when they just canít hang on any more

Itís certain death if anyone falls out of the pod

There is nothing anyone can use to tie them together

For the acid eats everything and nobody owns anything

When a family has too many members the pod becomes unstable

And many families have been known to have flipped their pod

A common tragedy of the place, the worst thing that can happen

The entire family is killed, of course but this leaves an empty pod adrift

There is no way to steer or direct the pods

So they only encounter other families on rare occasions

There is nothing to do, but these are intelligent people

When they drift near another pod, they reach out

And hold on as long as they can, perhaps a few minutes

And they talk to each other while they can

And form a common set of values, the only thing they can have

This seems very bleak to us

But in that culture, they still have traditions

Every encounter with another pod is a ceremony

The one big thing they all look forward to in their lifetimes

Is the day when two children from different pods

Drift near an empty pod, and the two can step onto it

And start their own family

They do not know of the earthís history

And have no laws or any way to enforce them

But they reserve empty pods only for such new families

It is the only way everyone can survive and everyone knows it

To the point of it being the only religion on Earth

They grow up never knowing when this will occur

They just have to wait for it to happen, then act quickly

They will probably never see their parents again

They must do this, for if they donít

The children will grow too large

There will be too many, and the pod will flip

But, in that society, it is not looked upon as a way to prevent flipping

As much as taking a giant step in life, and, in fact

It is a very difficult maneuver putting every family member at great risk

Very often the pods both flip when the big moment arrives

And everyone perishes, but this leaves three pods free

And life goes on, in the place.