Silence a welcome respite
as the world’s tragedies carry on
It does not last, of course, this quiet as thin as the skin
of a drum.
You consider desertion
on its plastic hanger, how quick the fix.
But you ache for the succor of absolution
in its supple cloak, to have it fold around you,
ceding the demands of atonement.
While little has the power to shock these days, 45’s evisceration of climate change rules still horrifies. Here in America, it’s a matter when-not-if we’ll start donning face masks to walk the dog. Also, when-not-if we’ll look back with something like fondness for such a quaint inconvenience as a face mask. This week marks yet another threshold moment we’ll someday read in history books about humankind’s relationship with its home.
Sweet notion, isn’t it? That we’ll have books? That anyone’s left to write them?
I understand that we need to fight back. Win at least one chamber of Congress. Jail another white supremacist or two, block the next attempt to gut the ACA, block the cops in riot gear with our cameras and bodies.
What I don’t understand is why we still insist on paper plates.
Every day I wake up to a checklist panting in my face. Every day for my entire adult life. I never considered questioning it. Bottomless need? Multiplying demands? Expect only this, nothing less, certainly nothing different. Tasks on the to-do list comprise a responsible life.
When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.
– Audre Lorde
I buy the house for the future. Political variables do not enter into the equation. Of course the system will stay healthy enough to sustain my son and me. Housing markets rise and fall. Financial markets swing from bear to bull. Social security may last or disappear. Through all this, my house is insurance. The same is true of my education, my work experience, my retirement savings, my kid’s college fund. The road will have its bumps but we’ll be okay, more or less.
(But for how long?)
My decision fails take into consideration that truth is only assumption and that nothing is fixed.
Now a fear takes root, a fear bigger and more eclipsing than any I’ve ever experienced. Inside this fear swim all the possibilities of a much darker future. Inside this fear dawns a recognition of the fragility of my security.
The professor wears plaid clogs. She strides into the conference room, bold black and gray swimming around feet sheathed in silver-threaded socks. I tell her I like her style. She tells me that every time she hits a professional milestone, she buys herself shoes. She can stand in her closet and scan the trajectory of her career: her first publication shoes, her first edited volume shoes. The plaid clogs? Tenure-track shoes.
“What’s next?” I ask.
“Full professor, going up next year.”
“Have you scoped out the shoes?”
She shakes her head. “Oh no, that would jinx it.” Then she grins. “Which is a total lie. There are these boots,” she sort of moans. “Boots and a whole new outfit to go with them.”
This concept mystifies me. One friend picks out a fancy purse for every promotion or raise. Coach, Kate Spade, Louis Vuitton. Another takes herself on a cruise. I clap along but something rankles. We’re dogs now? We get cookies for every well-timed wiggle?