The old man exhaled everything he had ever known
into a balloon, tied it off with a last string of memory,
then let it rise and slowly drift away into the sunrise.
This is how his final day began, imagining that
he was done at last with the knowledge game.
He relaxed and watched the morning light brighten
while the balloon soared aloft through the sky,
wandering across the whole busy continent
and then bravely sailing on out to sea.
Many varieties of marine life rose to the surface
just to watch the balloon pass silently over them —
they sensed that everything now could change.
At sunset that evening, it was no longer the sun
which extinguished itself in a blaze of colors.
The balloon had replaced it, grown huge, radiant,
and now was rising on another side of the globe,
confounding the flat earth theorists as it did.
People in the old countries felt as if they’d been
suddenly infused with a vibrant new life, as if
this new-found orb of knowledge just might
equalize the ten thousand things after all,
but no, alas, they were mistaken.
Nothing happened, just as it always did —
eventually everyone went back to their holy texts,
studying prophecies, lighting candles at the shrines.
They wanted to fit themselves into a fantasy world
which doesn’t exist — it never actually would.
The past and the future are not two separate events,
our time right now is the perfect proof of that.
If you are waiting for the rapture, here it is —
get totally lost in this, it has always been enough.
Of course, the old man thought nothing about it.
He was happy just to sit by the window, admiring
the light — calm, awake, aware, not knowing.
The balloon, now much smaller, finally descended
until it hung just above a field, where a child
eventually found it and took it home.
After he’d grown tired of it, he unwrapped the string,
deflated the balloon, put it away, and forgot it.
Much later, when he’d seen and known enough,
he found the balloon once more and decided
to exhale everything he remembered into it.
Tying it off with one last string of memory,
he then let it rise and slowly drift away.
That was how the final day began.