Humanist Voices in Verse: The Burden of Immortality

This week’s poem is by Steven Zimmerman. He was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1942, graduated from college in 1963, and served in Vietnam with the U. S. Army. He is the father of two and grandfather of four. He began writing poetry in 2006 after retiring from a 37-year career with a Fortune 500 company where he had worked in the field of insurance, risk management and financial services. While searching for more meaning in his life he became intrigued by the advantages of evolutionism over creationism and has been an active member of the American Humanist Association for several years. He enjoys traveling, writing poetry and relaxing while he sojourns to his favorite rotating waterfall in a parallel universe.

To submit your poem for consideration in Humanist Voices in Verse, email Please send no more than three poems per week.

The Burden of Immortality

Earth cares for her own ruins, naught for ours.
-Laurence Binyon

From the cleansing fire of antiquity
To the frightful reality of a dogwood winter,
Only the rocks live forever.

From the growing glaciers
That wither like a pansy in summer
To the seventeen year Cicadas
That rehearse silence to cacophony,
Only the renewal seems valued.

And only from the inevitable rumbling
Of the call of my own death rattle
Do I find the meaning of nurture.

Were I to be burdened with immortality
Where would come the gifts?
Surely not from kindness nor graciousness
For there would be no need.
Certainly not from companionship
For self sufficiency would prevail.
And needlessly from dreams
For all would have been mine since…

Let earth care for hers as she will,
And as for me,
I shall tend to each moment
As if it were my last, but
With the insatiable hope
That it is not.

—Steven Zimmerman