“The Three Point Five Trillion Names of God” by Brian Yapko

Thomas, old friend, I wish you doubted more.
I watch you through your great room window
across the street staring into your aquarium,
through tempered glass, pondering colored gravel,
plastic krill and three shimmering goldfish.

You consult a guide, you monitor their darting
motions, then fancy yourself a fisher of knowledge.
Thomas, you are a scientific man. You deal with
facts. But now you claim from this miniature sea
under glass that you finally grasp the Ocean!

Thomas, we live in desert! In your sixty-six years
on Earth you have never seen the sea, nor heard, nor
tasted. Yet you see through this glass darkly and claim
understanding of a force so vast it shapes the continents,
its dark depths falling fathoms to the pitch-black floor?

The sea, Thomas! Where the albatross was killed and
the white whale raged! Birthplace of tsunamis, of
storms, of life itself! A transparent tank and now you
know the placid dolphin, the preying shark, coral reefs,
the tortoise, the currents, the islands, fjords…!

The tide pools, the icebergs, beaches black and white…
How people sail and dive, dream and drown! You
claim mastery of shipwrecks, volcanoes and ancient
statues on the floor of the sea. But you are caught in the
shallows, bereft of the salt, the blood and the ineffable.

Thomas, put aside your certainty! Open your eyes,
your mind, your heart! What if I suggested to you
that from your home for three goldfish you dare not
judge all – neither plankton nor leviathan, nor the
Oceans’ population of three point five trillion fish?

How do I speak to you, Thomas, of infinity? That
your little aquarium is not even a metaphor? Care for
your goldfish, old friend. Love them if you can. But
weigh this if you would: in the Oceans of Vastness,
you truly do not know how much you do not know.




Brian Yapko practices law and writes poetry. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Grand Little Things, The Society of Classical Poets, Poetica, The Chained Muse, Garfield Lake Review, Tempered Runes Press and as a first-prize contest winner in The Abstract Elephant. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

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