You Wouldn’t Know It

by Eric Chaet

You wouldn’t know it by looking at me
but I’m Beethoven, Napoleon, Confucius, George Washington
you wouldn’t know it by my clothes or shoes
or the way my eyes are unfocused when I show up for breakfast
but I’m John D. Rockefeller, Rotheschild, Midas, King Sa’ud
you wouldn’t know it by the company you find me in
but I’m Shakespeare, Adam Smith, Socrates, Picasso
you wouldn’t know it by my physiognomy
but I’m Hercules, Atlas, Samson, Genghis Khan
Elizabeth I, Catherine the Great, Mother Teresa, Athena
I’m the great whale, great ape, redwood, giant squid
I’m the elephant in the room
people who imagine I’m just a metaphor keep referring to
I’m not only a direct descendant of Adam & Eve
but even of the first amoeba, the first mitochondrion
the first cell to commit to an organization of specialists
& the first cell to go rogue & do the best it could
per what it would encounter in the wild world
you wouldn’t know it by the way others behave in my direction
but I’m way ahead, I’m lapping the pack
they’ve already forgotten most of the race
the first toddling step & the journey of a thousand miles
the first hundred meters, the first mile
the first 6 thousand years, the paleolithic million
the first billions when atoms were looking for work in the molecules
as tho docking with supplies for the orbiting space station
proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids
& reasonable & unreasonable information
you wouldn’t know it
but I’m the one who set all these zippy-zappy technologies going
fire, cultivating crops, spinning, weaving, sewing
brewing, leavened bread, cheese, rhetoric, drama
rooms, windows, doors
pottery, wheels & axles, music, money, metallurgy
reading, writing, ratios, calculating
motors & engines, electronics & coding
I’m the spark, the enzyme, the catalyst
the conception is an aspect of me
& I’m an aspect of the conception
we race thru the universe alternating like magnetism & electricity
I’m the one who made the bargain
others hustle to become part of & continue to be part of
again & again, I plunge in & compete for a role myself
I admit there’s a great deal more I can’t control than I can
& you may occasionally observe me
running around like a chicken without a head
sighing, groaning, cursing, complaining, whining even
still, no one’s larger & or more in charge than I am.

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