How Not to Drown


I take a day away from the internet

mostly.  I take another.  For long stretches

I think about the garden or fiction or kids

or cleaning, and almost feel like myself

again.  Then I glance at the news

and I’m drowning.  It’s no single thing.

It’s dancing at a club, and putting

my kindergartner on a bus the morning

after, it’s months working the queer

anti-violence hotline, listening to the

suicidal, asking them to please just

not kill themselves tonight, promise me

that much.  It’s black mothers raising

black sons right next to my child (who can

pass for white), the quiet terror in their

eyes when the news reports yet another

and another and another.  Wrong place,

wrong time, pissed off the wrong person

by breathing.  It’s my hijabi students

crossing campus the morning after

the marathon, the way some of them

are quiet until a few weeks into each

semester, until they realize I will

treat them just the same as any other

students – I try.  What did it cost

the Christians to wear their cross,

back in the day?  The dark currents

of history are strong and deep, will drag

us under.  What do we have to put up

against that sodden despair –

a garden, a story, lunches made

for the children, kisses given

and gathered, before they run to play?

It’s not enough, not enough to change

anything.  Maybe enough to get me

through the worst days, though,

so I can catch a breath, find my stroke

again.  Come back fighting.