In my head, this year's landscape is pseudo-apocalyptic.
Front and center, there stand hospitals filled by folks fighting for their lives or others
Streets are empty as families hunker down hoping to let the world catch up to an unknown virus.
Clouds of terror and uncertainty roll in thick and pervasive,
Taking shape among nurses walking into rooms hoping their PPE is enough,
In the eyes of families and patients through facetime screens,
In the nursing homes and shelters where vulnerable bodies gather.
To the north, my attention is pulled by cries of anguish:
‘I can’t breathe’ — ‘We can’t breathe.”
Eight minutes flash on the screens of our collective consciousness
And we are left grappling with the chasms of both life-stealing racism and denials that injustice even exists.
These rallying cries are pierced by counter rallies and gunfire and shattered glass;
Which echoes on debate stages and floors of the senate as disagreement turns to hatred
Fault lines split as magma seeps through the cracks
To the west, roaring wildfires tear through our mountain sanctuaries.
Smoke settles in just above, burning our eyes and our throats, slowly suffocating us all.
Don’t breathe in the virus inside; don’t breathe in the toxins outside
This is very bad, so they say, but blue skies and clear air would feel out of place here.
I look more closely at the landscape and notice vines – the invasive kind
Twisting up the walls (of which there are many)
Maybe they were always here?
Catching people, families, neighborhoods in their thickets
Gotta cope with the stress somehow, take it out on someone
Can’t buy therapy at the neighborhood liquor store
Collateral damage, they say
And no one is untouched.
I look to the ground beneath my feet, parched and cracked
Like ground that was once underwater.
And there, right beside me are her little feet, learning to walk.
Her hand reaches up to clutch mine.
All the upheaval of this landscape before us is echoed in the systems and lawyers that determine her ‘case’ - her future.
She knows nothing different than this 2020-world
Her eyes take in the same landscape I do, yet what she sees is so different.
She fixates on the bright colors of people's masks
While forever playing a made-up game of gleefully ripping them off my face
She bounces along to the rhythms of protests ‘No Justice, No Peace’
With wide eyes and clapping hands.
And in her delighted laughter as she puts on a bedazzled Mickey Mouse mask like a hat,
I am reminded that despite everything, the good is still good, and it is not going anywhere.