We Are Sunk Within Ourselves

by Amy Stuber

Our faces nightly become more avian, wary, old, and we are sunk within ourselves, waiting. Instead, maybe: make the faces of the young monstrous. Make us protectable. With the windows open, we hear crickets and frogs and cars passing, and they do not protect us. The dogs need walking, and the cats preen by windows, and the children tell each other to fuck off, and we do not say anything because the rules are outdoors, or we are inside something we can’t see the outside of and would never be able to name. A party a few doors down and there are fireworks, and someone, two people now, in the bushes next door now drunk and fucking and we can hear all their noises and we know so much what that feels like to want beyond order and reason. But we are not dead, not even close, though we are dying, but so are the people in the bushes, so is the whole fucking world with its skies and brightness and moods and fires and water rolling over blind fish who scrape the bottom of something that we call the bottom but isn’t really the bottom but just a cover of some more underneath thing. In the evenings, we walk out with all the delicacy required of paper people, susceptible and in wait. The magnolias have turned brown, and the redbuds are deciding whether it’s time, and the tulips, they have no idea, they are all pageantry all the time anyway. Red and yellow and speckled and pointy and proclaiming to all of us winding wide semi-circles around each other. We’re here. The clocks are going. Someone on Twitter posts about a friend or an aunt or a cousin strapped into a trashbag with a hand-made mask and eyewear and hovering a few feet from someone in a plastic shield dying, and the trashbag woman deciding how much closeness is acceptable and how much risk she can take while her own children stand behind windows waving because that closeness cannot even be right now. All the things that used to feel confining are safety. The sunset is striped and fanciful in a way that doesn’t look real. Two owls guard a nest and fling themselves across the alleyway from tree to tree. It’s consolation, isn’t it, that the birds are flying, making owlets, flaring at our proximity? Walk out into the night. Sing. —
Amy Stuber is a writer living in Lawrence, KS. She’s online at www.amystuber.com and on Twitter @amy_stuber. She’s published some things in some places, but mainly she hopes you’re all holding up okay right now. She wants to say a big thanks to every single person going out for work: delivering food, taking care of the old and the sick, building things, moving things, all of it. Artwork by: Tim Peterson