After a Long Slumber

Becca Klaver | Poetry

The fridge makes ocean sounds
like breathing or as if lying
on the floor three stories up
warm against December
is a way to put ear to conch shell
woozy with the possibility that
everything’s sentient and soulful

The cats bring roach gifts
to remind me that living things kill
but I can’t even squash an ant anymore
can only whisper shoo, shoo

I’m in the living room
that used to be the bedroom
where leaves fall from the trees
to reveal the Freedom Tower gleaming

and today the New York Times published
its first front-page editorial in 95 years
grief-stricken editors marshalling logic
like a cry against the law
that has us all sheltering in place
hunched shoulders & cable nights

Facebook lets us livestream video
just in time for citizen journalists
to invent the poetics of telewitness
(anything might be amended)
(a dying form flares up to claim its power)
and who would want to watch

I want the answer to be:
a country ready to look itself in the eye

Those of us who have had to admit
my house is not in order
know how it feels to be forced one morning
to see things for what they are
when we wish we could go on
saying no, no, no

saying shoo, shoo

But my house is not in order
there are squashed creatures on the floors
and rust-colored smears on the walls

What I thought was ordinary life
was too awful to go on
and we still don’t know if we can bear it

but at least we admit it’s there