and in these times,
I focus on the birds, the chirps, the helicopter thrum of wings
the gossip high in the bare branches
trees waiting for pips to become a blush of early green
at dawn they branch like the lobes of lungs
and crocus tips sharp-tongued make faces through the leaden leaves
and in these times,
each day is brighter, the tint in the sky is turning a more assured blue
and the moon still sasses me early in the morning
“what a beauty I am!” and then fades into breakfast
and in these times I remind myself I like simple things
quiet minutes writing things down
a guitar in my lap
a walk in the woods
these still exist
there are no bombs from the sky.
no phobia. no hostility.
my unearned blessings.
I don’t walk down a street uncertain in my gender, ability, race
and in these times it’s easy to hold my breath
as I watch the news and the minutes tick by without a breath
and my head might feel lighter or heavier
and my heart might feel fluttery
and I’ll wonder why until I remember I haven’t been breathing
I inhale the panic and exhale my wisdom back at the small screen
or do I inhale wisdom and exhale my panic?
the furrowed brows
the measured speech
the limits I’ve never seen imposed in the blessing of a pretty long life.
and in these times
I remember staying with my mom in Karachi
subject to rolling brownouts to manage electricity in the heat
and random targeted killings at western fast food spots.
Snoopy’s ice cream and Burger King or was it Pizza Hut?
and life persisted.
Pervaiz listening to cricket test matches, my mom to Willy Nelson,
shopping in open air markets,
going to the beach in thick night heat to wonder about the nesting turtles
and in these times I’m thinking of so many — already a nervous sort
perhaps stirred toward terror
of not enough and “how will I” and “what if” and “what will happen when”
the un-lived future minute that grows more terrifying
with mounting rates of illness transmission and death
and in these times with even church steeples quiet
perhaps the bellringers have gone home too
of empty pews
the ones who need God’s bath or a pastor, a priest, a rabbi, an imam to steady us
— those who find peace in the widest lens
in these times i remember
I am small and its okay
I can do my best to deliver some cash to a housebound brother,
cheerlead the other as he flies home,
to pay a worker not to come to my house,
to waive rent, to call up the possibly infirm,
to not buy the variety store toilet paper because i still have at least one roll,
to cancel my dream holiday,
to bend where i need to bend in the direction of us all
and to be content, like David Byrne sang,
“I got some groceries, some peanut butter, to last a couple of days”