Ode to the To Do List

by Christine Adams Beckett

“The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order.”
-Umberto Eco

Bullet-pointed, hash-marked,
numbered, prioritized or
collected in order of cognitive
awareness, combating
with each passing senior
moment: a Sisyphean
conquest, a black hole of
tasks curiously recorded
for the ages.

We praise thee, oh! words
as powerful as the
proverbial pen,
scribbling persuasive
arguments via epistolary
quest, a Dear John to
forgetfulness, an
appeal, a refund of
sanity for anxiety.

Let this inventory of
tasks restore our
autonomy, our powers
of control, fool us into thinking
with each catalogue of
chores, every enumeration
of jobs: we’ve got it all
under our ink-stained

And as we tick a check
mark to the margins of
this register, or more violently,
scratch out lines, with
frantic blood-inked scribbles,
let us slice pieces of our laden
worlds away with a sharpened
scalpel-nib, cut away the cancers
of our lives with
every tiny accomplishment.