Forensic investigators found a cache of old newspapers
stacked in his closet, documenting notable past events —
a war ending, a war breaking out, a famous home run,
an exploding spaceship, a wall coming down, one hero
after another gunned to death, tall city skyscrapers
brought down, blown up — humans being humans,
it was all there in the newspaper headlines, now
they were also part of the collective memory.
He himself had moved on, none of those events
mattered to him anymore, he’d kept the old papers
in the closet for no reason except to confirm his own
existence, an existence which had now exceeded its
time limit, just as any memory of him would eventually
vanish, along with the crumbling pile of old newspapers.
The collective would absorb him and his passions,
his preferences, his triumphs and disappointments,
and all the people, places, and things he had known,
until the collective itself also disappears in the course
of time, leaving not one single newspaper behind
to exhaustively document its own passing.
It will have moved on, and none of its prior history
will matter anymore, none of its former existence
will be confirmed or even vaguely remembered.
When the investigators arrive, they’ll find
nothing but a kind of shimmer in the air,
as if there was once something, but not now.
The world they discover will be pristine,
without a trace of human habitation.
They will note their find and mail the file.
In time, it may even make the headlines.