To remedy his affliction, it said,
he should abandon his religion
and start counting backward from
the highest number he could
reasonably say was not absurd.
The effects were subtle at first,
less time on the toilet, not as much
midday snacking, more immediate
recall of the incidental names of people
he thought he could care less about.
Within a week, he needed less sleep.
After a month, he heard himself telling people
he’d never been happier, which was the kind of thing
he’d wince at before, whenever someone decided
to share their secret happiness. Improbable
presumption on parade, he’d scoff.
But now, the only uncertainty preoccupying
certain pauses in the day was How long?
He knew he’d been building a new one all this time,
which was what he’d always made fun of in the others.
And he was more than willing to give it up as well.
He just couldn’t figure out how to avoid faith
altogether and live like this from now on.