the fireflies, returning
The headlines have made an upheaval of our certainty, each day
another shadowy jab, another needle piercing soft, familiar skin. And even though
the blood dries, what remains is a fear throbbing visibly at the veins. We stop imagining
there is good news around the corner, pull cards, instead, from a dusty pack of memories,
gaze longingly at the images. Oh, to be back at that moment summer first began
to flirt, and the lines for ice cream tripled overnight, and beads of sweat
gathered in a tidy pool at our throats, and the sky winked, letting us all in
on its secrets, and time sprawled out like a cat with its belly to the clouds.
Yet even as we grieve and our innocence is lost to yearning,
a silent dusk descends. And out of nowhere the fireflies, returning.
the fireflies, returning
at the entrance
I've never believed what they say about strangers. I have walked into
a Nebraska town so many miles from home and been fed ambrosia salad,
offered a place to sleep. In Centennial, Arizona, they asked me to read poetry,
opened a bottle of wine to toast my arrival. There was a living room in Houston
where a woman I'd never met shared a difficult secret, and her eyes softened
in the telling. There are doors we insist, despite the risk, on keeping open, and doors
we insist, despite the risk, on walking through, and I don't want to imagine a world
where the houses stay shuttered and silent, and the front stairs splinter, and the bell
goes rusty from disuse. So there is no other choice but to clamber up, point our heart
at the entrance, press the buzzer, and wait for who will come to let us in.
before the hurricane comes
The storm hasn't yet made landfall, but you wouldn't know it from the words
"state of emergency" crossing the governor's lips, and the sudden beeline
to the bread aisle, and the forlorn looks of children ordered off the sand
despite the castles in the midst of their assembly. Everyone's craning their necks
to the sky, hoping for a glimpse of what will follow, but the answers live
inside invisible currents of air moving at a clip that bears no easy navigation.
This morning, waking early, I heard the littlest breeze pass through the backyard;
the birds, if they knew, did not betray a thing. And yet, there is no going back,
and I'm at the window now, too, hoping I'll remember the blue of this particular
Tuesday morning, and the songs I heard coming from the branches.
May's last sunset
It is late in a small village in Brittany, where a woman and her mother
are strolling the canal. And yet, the sky has broken all the rules, and the light
guiding them back to the house feels improbable as the airplanes
that brought them here, as if weight and gravity had forgotten themselves.
A dog scampers alongside them, blessed with an amnesia for despair and
uncertainty, unmindful of whether the day is at its close or just beginning.
His tongue flaps the air comically as he runs, and for a moment, all they see
is joy. Their footsteps slow along the path to take it in, and their breath
stays patient in their chests, and in the river's quiet mirror they watch
as the world above them spreads out in all its glory at their feet.
There is a man in Colorado on his last legs with liver cancer, and even though
I don't know him, I know someone who does, and that is enough to win me a spot
on his cheerleading squad, rooting for the long shot of a comeback. Around me,
strangers bearing tinctures, prayers, websites, the names of doctors and patients
who licked the odds, remedies a thousand years old, and I'm thinking,
if enough of us come, the noise alone with rouse his body to the field again.
It is so green where we have gathered, spring clambering over itself, the air
damp with expectation. We've brought reinforcements in the event of rain -
Hail Marys hidden in our pockets - and we will stand here, shoulder against shoulder,
lobbing everything we have until the light goes down, and then late past it, just in case.