Late twenty-first century. Scientists discover
longevity’s hinge, the sleep hormone
melatonin, a treasure trove of anti-wane
buried in the pineal gland.
First subjects to react:
insomniacs. Given supplements
to realign circadian rhythms, they exhibit
side effects of cell regeneration, an increase
in long-term potentiation, memories
of inconsequence given the force of real-time
experience. Most describe the sensation
as an excitation in the brain, the welcome
resurgence of circulation that comes
with shaking out pins and needles
in a limb. Theorists liken
the new consciousness to autism
with none of the overload.
Poets write of wholeness, the womb,
self as a mansion with infinite rooms.
Drug companies profit. Philosophers reaffirm
the death of God in all His forms.
On her fortieth birthday, Meredith is deemed
memory-worthy, celebrates with a party,
customary for the preliminary prescription.
She jokes that she’s always had
a fear of the dark, secretly hopes
she’s making the right decision. Presents
include double-lined blinds, infra-vision
lenses, novelty scrapbooks and photo albums—
empty, of course, more for the symbolism,
curios of recall. “Seriously, though,”
she says, “I will be remembering you all.”
Rubs her son’s hair, kisses his brow,
downs the first pill to applause, well-wishers
slightly in awe at the birth
of another eternal. Meredith
has joined a populace who deny the past
its place. A permanent state
of life-before-their-eyes stockpiles
sentience until they feel old
beyond their years. By fifty, Meredith’s ego
has outlived her body threefold. She’s
awake no more than two hours a day,
increasingly weary of supplying
the store in her brain. Time
bows. Seasons pass. In a last act,
her son parts the curtains before she,
satiated, relinquishes her grasp
on an average lifespan.