One could probably explain the whole world in terms of Plastic: the plastic
used for almost everything--the little ivory forks at picnics
and green toy dinosaurs in playrooms everywhere;
the rooks and pawns of cheap $4.95 chess sets made in the People's
Republic of China
and those Tupperware containers that open with a perfect quiet pop
to yield the tuna fish sandwich
about to enter the mouth of the secretary on his lunch break.
You could talk about how the big molecules were bound in chains
by chemical reactions, then liquefied and poured like soup
into intricate factory molds
for toy soldiers and backscratchers, airsick bags and high-tech Teflon
you could mull over the ethics of enslaving matter
even while feeling admiration for the genius it takes
to persuade a molecule to become part of casserole container.
And what about plastic that has dear to you?
--the toothbrush and the flip-flops,
the hollow plastic Easter egg that held jellybeans inside,
the twelve-inch vinyl disk that in 1976 brought you Copacetic Brown and
the Attorneys of Cool?
Plastic companions into which the lonely heart was poured,
which gave it color and a shape?
--Or in another case, the blur polyethylene water bottle
sitting on a table in the park on Saturday
between two people having a talk about their relationship
--which I could tell was probably near its end
since the various lubrications
usually coating the human voice
were all worn away, leaving just the rough, gritty surfaces
of need and fear
exposed and rubbing on each other.
I wonder if it would have done any good then
if I had walked over and explained a few things to them
About how it is so much easier to stretch than
which accounts for some of the strain imposed on
the late 20th-century self,
occasionally causing what has been called Interpersonal Adhesive
They might have been relieved to know
that science has a name
for their feelings at that precise moment of modern living,
which may be why each of them kept reaching out
to seize the plastic water bottle
and suck from it
in fierce little hydraulic gulps,
as if the water was helping them to wash down something hard to ingest;
or the bottle was a life vest keeping them afloat on open sea--
though their pink elastic lips, wrapped around the stem of the container
were so much more beautiful than plastic
and the smooth ripple
of their flexible muscular throats
made the only sound audible
above the tough, indifferent silence
starting to stretch over everything.