Stirrup

You have been ill. Your body wrung out like a wash cloth. The parts of your brain where the lights live have closed for repairs.

“I don’t understand,” your boss says, “why we aren’t all in the streets. Why aren’t we all in the streets?”

You are too tired to reply, “Many of us are.” Or, more truthfully, “Because we have to last out this work day in our air-conditioned building.”

“Because we are busy typing our outrage.”

“Because we are consumed with making the same amount of money go on and on.”

“Because we are still reacting to yesterday’s calamity.”

“Because we haven’t recovered from this morning’s news.”

“Because we have been beaten up so thoroughly that holding our phones in front of our faces feels like complicity.”

“Because today I just can’t.”

I am 42 and more contented than I have ever been. Can I tell you that I wake in a room filled with art — women and wolves — skeletons and cemeteries? The push of small dog paws against my legs. To a wife so warm that even her murmurs are musical.

My city is under construction. It doesn’t seem like we have a single road that is intact or unimpeded. The angry man with terrible hair is yelling into the wind again; my entire feed is consumed with his latest catastrophe. But it’s the same smash-up as before: the abuser goes on being abusive.

Outside the 13th floor, I watch the clouds press wherever they are headed.

My child with his trumpet and top hat on stage in the spotlight.

Everything in fractions now as we try to solve for x.

My weariness like a cape. Is it keeping me warm, or making it harder to escape?

I wanted to tell you that I still can’t be hopeless.

Even now, as I hold my shoulders together in what I’ve decided to call a huddle, I feel a little more like laughing. Maybe it’s hysteria. I can only do what I have always done. Shop in local stores. Buy used. Repair. Help wherever I can. Refuse to abandon my joy. I am near tears when I feel the lights switch on, and the chairs come off the tables, and the steps in the kitchen that mean we’re nearly there. We’re a little closer. We are together in this.

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