Granted

Four figures reunite on a balcony, unmasked. Sunlight
outlines blurry shapes, arms linked against the ocean,
city and hills beyond. The bridge rises in two points
and graceful curves, all of it golden, gladsome.

The week has been emotional, intense beyond
expectation. Voices tighten, tears gather amidst

shared laughter — contradictions understood by all.

How do we gather again, reset ourselves
from worldwide disaster (knowing only some
have the privilege of emerging now from sorrow,

knowing some have endured far greater blows)?

Sharply aware of all the losses, the ones we
swallowed down, in order to survive. How impossible,
being flung into survival mode – a tsunami’s

devastation, descending on a sunny day.

We’ve decided to host a party, and every face is joy,
even the strangers. My arms reach to embrace a friend
who celebrates her seventieth birthday soon; by then, I
will have flown away. But today I have the privilege
of whispering, “Happy Birthday” early, face buried
in silvered hair. The embrace lingers, neither of us ready
to let go. That pattern repeats throughout the week,
accompanied by urgent speech, words cascading over

each other, compressed into too small a space.

There is never enough time. Three hours for one
beloved, seven for another, even four days is
nowhere near enough; I promise to return
in March, vow constancy. I hope they believe it
in their bones, knowledge born of empty arms,
aching muscles and hungry skin,

grieving minds and sundered hearts.

Please, let me remember this at least,
as I emerge, stumbling from the shadow;

let me never take these people for granted again.

*****

June 30, 2021

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