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This Is Really Happening

Such an odd cloud overcame the nation at that time.
A damp breeze and, where a storm should be,
defiance. In it, the litter of scorched marigolds
fidgeted on the ground against my feet. My fists
still pinched their stems as I metronomed now toward
“My life in poems” and then “I want to live,”
tore “my accountability to a community” from “I can’t bear
to be among,” turned from “violence is a resort” to
“the careful pursuit of beauty” and back. At each extreme,
the pieces I ripped apart from the blossoms fell,
either way, all to the ground. I brooded like this
often as a child. In one summer, another cousin
plucked me from a mood, unfolded and draped my back
across an anthill. I was briefly a glimmer struck burning
in a gust, a wild-down-the-mountainside scream,
but quickly, as my body slammed into place around
my sobs and my sobs, like doused coals, quit, I became
small and defeated and invested in the magic of palms
and soft hymns. The song of my grandmother’s balm,
what was it? There was only every single ant’s explicit sting
in the cache of what my flesh had recollected. I expected
—at that time, in that country—for the knowledge
of corporal damage and how to manage it to make itself
useful. People, poetry, severity: I was lonely for a tool.
From where I stood beneath the new weird weather,
in a hindsight, disturbed at my being older and colorful
in this lately precarious matter of facts—the climate,
for example, an opinion—as I watched my orange indecision
twitch in the sensitivities of wind
charlotting across the black soil, I felt still so miniature
and humiliated by the number of creatures who
could summarize themselves into inflicting harm
that I too could hardly believe the world
wasn’t quite the way that I remembered.