In the Future We Are Gods

words by Martha Grover
photos by Jia Qian

 Photo credit: Jia Qian

Photo credit: Jia Qian

A Request to Future Mothers

Martha Grover

It’s a rare sunny winter day on January 22nd, 2016 and I’m standing on a bridge above the gorge at Latourelle Falls, watching the water rush by beneath me. 

I’m a specific human with a universal fear of death. I know for a fact there won’t be books in the future. Fossil fuels etc.  There could be anything in the future. Or, nothing. 

It’s a specific gorge and a specific bridge, but the water and moss tearing away at the stones and cement are all time and all souls. 

Cliché, I know; a writer contemplating nature. But I think that’s a bullshit cliché; there’s not nearly enough contemplation of nature going around nowadays if you ask me. 

The point is: when the shit hits the fan I won’t last very long. Everything that I require to live is made in a factory from the bodies of pigs and dead dinosaurs. I’d give myself six months at the most. These pills that keep me living have their own shelf life. In the future - I don’t know if they’ll even have shelves, or even flat surfaces to set things on. 

It’s a child’s quest really, the need to be remembered. I am wandering lost in the grocery store, crying for my mother. Always. 

As I make my way back to my 1996 Honda Accord, I tell myself a story:

In the future, I will be a god. 

Around the fire at night, in the twilight of the Anthropocene, I can only hope that Mothers will tell their children about me.  People like me.

But first, the future mothers will paint the scene: 

 Photo credit: Jia Qian

Photo credit: Jia Qian

Once there was a race of gods, in ancient times, that didn’t know what death was. They fashioned metal limbs, fertilized and grown with explosions, ripping bombs and rush hour collisions, and electric voice boxes spurted from addictive substances, murders and international crime rings. They thought nothing of cutting themselves open and they never felt pain. They didn’t know what animals were. They were kept alive by miracles, the kind that we can’t understand. They had problems that don’t exist anymore. They didn’t know very much, because everything they needed to know were things that gods know and are only useful to gods. They created diseases and cured them. Most of their inventions caused as many problems as they solved.  To have fun they would drain all the blood from their bodies and then pump it back again, so they could win athletic competitions, or live to see their children perform meaningless rituals. 

There are other stories about the gods, the gods that wanted more than anything to be beautiful, the ones who were starving and finally killed themselves, but we’ll get to those another night. 

I know I am indulging myself, but I hope that my story is a future child’s favorite. Maybe the youngest child, the one with the best memory, who is the most articulate. This is my best hope.

Of all of these gods, though, there were the ones that were most godlike. The purest example of being a god.

I want to tell the future mothers that I am/was like an orchid in a glass house. Never having lived outside. That I am the most intricate, the most grotesque. That I was fashioned after a wasp that never lived in nature: a human hand. That I was fertilized by a human hand.

That I was a human that could not live without magic. That magic was important. That I was important.

But this wouldn’t make any sense to the future mother. There is no glass, there are no such creatures.  She will go on: 

In so much as they were created by the gods, they were useless. The gods loved them and used them as proof of their own power and cleverness. But in reality, they were like the body of a dead bird eaten by worms and scavengers, all that is left is the wings. 

Then the future mothers will turn to their future children and tell them the moral of the story: 

After the time of the gods, the earth discovered death again. Can you imagine living without Death? Can you imagine?