That oak could easily outlive me, and the ancient moon will probably still be here (though more distant from Earth) when the sun goes nova several billion years hence and wipes out whatever life might be on this planet then. Then the paled moon will orbit lifeless Earth and reflect the dimmed, dwarf sun's wan light for ages and ages more, as the universe expands away from this spent star system.
These thoughts fill me with delight. I like stories that have endings. The endings need not be happy, so long as they are there. In fact sad endings have considerable appeal. Sadness is not deplorable, and not at all incompatible with joy. In fact the two probably depend on one another for their effects. Looking at the moon and that long future the sight of it has evoked I can imagine the dead, dusty Earth, and the dust being the end of all the stories it told, including me.
Maybe some as yet undeveloped life form will visit this dead planet far in the future, and some of the dust they tread on (assuming they have something foot-like) will be some part of me. My story will be long over, but then my dust will become part of some other story. I like the thought that stories end, but story does not.
Hello, future life from that will never see this message. How is the pale, distant moonlight on the night you stir a bit of carbon dust that was once part of me?
After the Last Bulletins
by Richard Wilbur
After the last bulletins the windows darken
And the whole city founders readily and deep,
Sliding on all its pillows
To the thronged Atlantis of personal sleep,
And the wind rises. The wind rises and bowls
The day's litter of news in the alleys. Trash
Tears itself on the railings,
Soars and falls with a soft crash,
Tumbles and soars again. Unruly flights
Scamper the park, and taking a statue for dead
Strike at the positive eyes,
Batter and flap the stolid head
And scratch the noble name. In empty lots
Our journals spiral in a fierce noyade
Of all we thought to think,
Or caught in corners cramp and wad
And twist our words. And some from gutters flail
Their tatters at the tired patrolman's feet,
Like all that fisted snow
That cried beside his long retreat
Damn you! damn you! to the emperor's horse's heels.
Oh none too soon through the air white and dry
Will the clear announcer's voice
Beat like a dove, and you and I
From the heart's anarch and responsible town
Return by subway-mouth to life again,
Bearing the morning papers,
And cross the park where saintlike men,
White and absorbed, with stick and bag remove
The litter of the night, and footsteps rouse
With confident morning sound
The songbirds in the public boughs.