I May Never Read Again

This morning I sat down for my regimented skim.
Today, The New Yorker, December 7th issue, The Talk of the Town.
How I’d landed on this particular article,
I can’t remember, for within a few paragraphs
I was abruptly affronted by a rather offensive stream of questions:
How much was my life worth?
How much were the lives worth of those around me?
How would such a value even be postulated?
And what was worse than these assailant questions, no answers!
Nobody told me how much someone would pay to keep me alive.
How much a stranger or a friend or the government would be willing to cough up. Well!
That was just insulting!
No one had bothered to jot down a number. Send it via post. Put it in my Facebook comments-nothing.

So I wondered to myself, as the half read article had insinuated, was there room for debate? Here I paused to stare out the window,
a misty Monterey morning, the sun creeping over the horizon.
My day ahead pressing upon me, just as arbitrary as the one before.
Chipping away at my degree, a few afternoon errands on the agenda, my cat reminding me quite loudly that her bowl was empty.
My daily life.
To whom was it concerned and commodified?
My gaze was then interrupted by another wandering thought;
What was meant by my potential?
Would it be more appropriate to measure me in the years I had not yet lived or those of which I already had?

And another thing!
Who was to decide?
Would there be a hearing?
Did I have the right to a lawyer or was I expected to represent myself?
Good gracious, I was dreadfully unprepared.

Between sips of coffee, I wrestled with these besieging questions
The most bothersome of which being
who’s name to curse for soiling such a fine morning.
The New Yorker author? The Professor who’s lecture had inspired her article? Or perhaps the anonymous student she’d featured who had guessed that my life might be worth “twenty-four thousand”?
No wonder they didn’t want their name in the print.

I pondered and sipped, pondered and sipped.
Finally I consulted my cat, “Ruby, are we more than the sum of our parts?” She must have been just as dumbfounded as I,
Shooting an annoyed look towards her foodless bowl
and refusing to indulge in such philosophical matters before 8am. I respected her wise detachment,
besides I’d better hurry up,
lest I be late again to my zoom l lecture, in the next room.

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