It’s noon on a Sunday in late August 2020.
Despite the pandemic, sane people are out and about.
From my bedroom I hear happy lawnmowers,
the neighbors playing basketball as though life
were a game, and maybe it is a game I mistook
for something serious, grand, magisterial.
My son, nearly two, is in the backyard pouring
dirt from one container to another; my wife
fills the kiddie pool with sweet water from a hose.
According to my phone, it’s a gorgeous day, cool
for summer, sunny with a slight breeze. Of course,
with the blinds still drawn against the onslaught
of insanity—police shootings, proto-fascism—I
can only guess at what it feels like to be outside
right now, on this day, in this moment. Only Chance
is with me, my loyal dog who reverently licks my feet.
But, nestled against me, I feel a certain tightness
in his body, a coiled desire to venture out.
Does he wonder why, amidst so much beauty
and so much horror, I am crushed beneath these sheets
like a stone half-buried in sediment at the bottom
of a black lake? I feel the weight of countless fathoms
above me—the burning star that is the sun cannot torch me
here. And yet, if I loved the darkness, would I not summon
the strength to turn out the light for good?
O fluorescent fire, O heat that singes but not does burn,
would that you could consume me, I might never rise again
to brave fascist bullets or heroically weed my vegetable beds.
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