night november 2016

The switch is broken, so I unscrew the bulb, and the warmth afterglows in my fingers. I cover myself with a sheet, tuck a pillow beneath my neck and cheek, and close my eyes. There’s an image from the novel I was reading: the man in Magritte’s painting, looking in a mirror and seeing only the back of his head, again and again. Then an image from the dream that awakened me an hour ago: two wolf pups trotting across a yard, me standing in the street, then the mother wolf, then the father, who turns on me, innocent bystander or not, wrong place at the wrong time or not, his chest and eyes and teeth leaning towards me. Thoughts appear, slowly, like a river in flatland. “Why did you do it?” The color red. “I was dead, and I said. I was dead, and I said.” The color indigo. Little girl Hillary running from bullies, seeking the shelter of her mom, her mom turning her away, leaving her to face them alone. Big girl Hillary hearing chanting: “Lock her up!” Trump saying, “China,” Trump saying, “Something’s going on.” Locked out. Locked up. Look up. Look out. Look beyond. And beyond, outside this room where I am floating in a river, beneath a sheet, beneath a shroud, beyond, the most powerful country on earth lies in the dark, with death and guilt and unprotected kids and wolves in the street in the mirror in our heads. And soon will rise with the future of children in our preyed-upon, played-upon, dumbed-down, black-and-white-and-red-and-blue hands. And wonder is there still some warmth and power in those hands, and perhaps there’s no simple switch anymore for turning things on and off, but is there something yet we can do to unscrew ourselves, and is there a word to be spoken on the other side of death. I was dead, and I said. I was dead. And I said?

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