Fourteen on Wednesday

Fourteen on Wednesday

For Kaya

what is it like to come of age in a plague?

you’ve grown another inch no one can see,
dug in as you are in your corner of the apocalypse,
your skateboard propped against your bed
collecting cobwebs since June, a bed unmade, sporadic
murals bulge from the walls coded with colors you
can barely comprehend.

what is it like to be a pupa forming its final shape
a million changes happening at once
while the world pauses with a gasping breath?

July trickles into August it’s all the same
100 degrees bleeds into sleep and another disease eats through our dreams and takes hold.
paralyzed thoughts cough in rooms desperate to break free
but the airlines are on life support and the parks are empty.
another store collapses and announces We’re Closing
while under the 290 bridge the homeless camp fills to capacity.

you fold your knees into your chest and say, “mom
I am so anxious, and I don’t know why”

lately you hug me more, reach out to me more,
as if instinctively knowing the days are growing thin and
a train is coming to take you to destinations unknown.

not long now you will turn off your phone when it rings my tone
and press your face against the skin of a girl not your kin, and
only then will those bold colors devouring
your space have meaning.

But not now, not in this plague
Not when every day hundreds enter the grave
and call it home and the politicians shake their heads
and the nurses break down exhausted in supply closets and the
experts warn us this is not the end, this is only the first wave.

You say you want to believe in God again
I ask if you want to go to church
I begin, “I know a place…”
you shake your head and say
“I would rather believe in him in my own way”
as you look ahead at the dark stain of your sister
walking toward us in the afternoon.
shadows collect around her face,
a finicky moon in its most turbulent phase
pretty soon you will match her shadow
pretty soon, but not today.

what is it like to come of age in a plague?

you pack up your bags and go.
in the distance blue jays
are dive bombing butterflies,
your sister puts her ear buds in but you don’t notice.
august trickles into another august and the day is
over but it is just beginning
as the sun envelops you with open arms.

-- 8/3/2020
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