Sarah Manguso

Getting Over the Twentieth Century

At first it just sat on its pages, crying at me.

The twentieth century let me discover it.

I loved it so much I tattooed a hundred-year calendar on my wrist.

Its space exploration and its acid trips are what I miss most,

and I want to go back even though the possibility of time travel was already gone by its third decade.

At times I pity it, a century lost inside another one like a toy boat floating in the pump room.

Almost no one goes in there.

Though the twentieth century is unlikely to be found again as I found it a hundred years ago, it will be,

and when that happens I will become lost as the boat’s wake that is, for a moment, indeed real

but is replaced then by another wake, similar but not the same—not ever the same.

And I will disappear, by then made almost entirely of history, the way history itself disappears leaving only its memory to be ruined by the captains of a new, distracted age.