“Poetry,” by Greg Jackson. The New Yorker, 4/29/2019.
This is a piece of fiction, full of allegory that I have no time to unravel, but it had one insight that I found significant and wanted to pass on.
A 30-something man and his girlfriend, were visiting a French beach and ate a small, apple-like fruit that turned out to be poisonous. (It only made them sick.)
His girlfriend vomited all night. He tells us, “I never threw up myself, so, in some sense, the apple is still inside me. But maybe this is a fanciful way of looking at things. I have not died yet, at any rate, and to judge by this unbroken streak of not dying, I will live forever. But that’s fanciful, too.”
So, Classmates, we have lived all these years, avoiding many disasters, and, based on this unbroken streak, assume we will live forever, even in defiance of logic. No wonder we are so shocked when nature raps our knuckles for our impudence.