Q & A.

November 20, 2020

The stress is perfectly real, a buzzard bird at the throat, and if you sit here long enough, you will be scratched by rough-hewn talons.

Out of the corner of your eye, you intuit a mouse running near your chair, and swiftly move your head to spy it: It is not there. It is only a trick. A skitty-skatty hoax played on a pinned-and-needled mind.

Driving home, you grip the steering will, not trusting that you won’t make a stabbing, veering crank right off the bridge, or into oncoming traffic.

Tell yourself to breathe: breathe slowly, with measure. Calm down. You are fine.

Are you fine? The virus-y breath on the back of your neck whispers ‘sure you are.’ What is this feeling? (The professionals on the night’s news talked about fatigue, and fatigued, you cannot not watch – you flip to your favorite talking head.)

An alert on your phone coos a zzz-zzz, a vibration to let you know of another problem close by – the power is being turned off, there’s smoke drifting in from the fires. This part of town is closed due to protests. Someone is stealing BLM signs. And someone was conked over the head walking to work, for no apparent reason. The local news sighs and rolls over – make room, here comes the big stories, the day’s highlights:

There’s Russian interference. Do you think there’s voter fraud? Claims of USPS corruption. Hospital beds are filled again. The Dow Jones plummets. Hurricanes. Homeless. Relapse. Hoarding. Furlough.

A tickertape newsreel of misery unfurls, nightly at 7pm. Change the channel. Oh, misery there, too. Where to look now?

(On Facebook, a post by someone you don’t know very well, haven’t spoken to in 20 years, you can’t remember her face very well, even. Her uncle has died, she posts. You swallow, make a donation on GoFundMe.)

Bracing yourself for whatever the news is going to deliver next, you hear the same question over and over, it wants an answer, but you don’t know what it is. The question is unsatisfied, and it gets louder every time it is repeated: “Where is my country? Where is my country?”

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Blood loss in July.

July 17, 2020

The summer is bleeding and I can’t stop it.

It’s running down the legs of time and it’s pooling at the feet of life—the summer will perish and what will be left is a shell of this portion of 2020.

A translucence appears in the atmosphere when the soul leaves the body. In near-translucent outline I see tokens of a former time:  the summers within the memory of my history. Warm weather, County Fairs, beach vacations, the barbecues and roadtrips and happiness all shimmer above the dead summer.

A burial awaits. Summer wrapped in rags, embalmed in cancelled plans, it waits to be laid to rest. I turn the soil, folding in frustration, grief, despair, a cup of anxiety for what other little deaths wait in the future. (I stop mid-way to wonder, have I shaken the last hand I ever will, then? have I gone to my last concert?)

I gather the summer in my arms and pour it into the earth, I say goodbye and recite an Our Father. I look up past the translucence that is, after all, only tears. I see the cloudless sky, the pulsating blue and sunshine streaming forth, and I hear a hymn float on the breeze, I hear a hymn amid the birdsong. (An answer: I am at this concert, now, in this moment.)

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