I ran, but reality hunted me
all the way to a remote beach in North Carolina
where, in the widest water of the world,
a mother lost her child.
No, I was not safe even there
where I sank down into the sand,
a body yearning for early burial,
my hands swirling in the tide pool like
Peace and quiet.
These were the two words I held in my mind like a prayer,
a plea against gunfire and terrorists, trucks and Trump,
racial tension and the raping of women.
For a week, I wanted to be spared
the horrors of humans.
But the mother howled and howled like an animal,
fell to her knees in the surf and let loose
the ghosts in her throat.
There are no safe spaces left to us.
No movie theater, nightclub, city street,
no concert or lazy beach.
There is no vacation from our histories
and bodies and endless thoughtless
tragedies. They follow us everywhere,
like the eyes of a cat in the dark.
It became a story in my head then.
Where was the beginning, middle, end?
The narrative arc? The climax and resolution?
This woman could not stand on the shores of my mind
I needed closure.
I needed the story.
So I turned back – because I had to know –
did she find her daughter?
Was this an ending I could live with?
How horribly selfish of me,
how innately artistic of me
to make this all about myself
but even the sun beat down like the eye of God,
because He too needed confirmation:
was this His fault?
There is no vacation from the horrors
that creep in every corner
like rats and fleas with black death
in their teeth.
The story goes like this:
she found her daughter.
But long after they were gone
I stood looking out into the dark water,
trying to make sense of its coming and going
and to find some word of comfort in the cries
of a single seagull circling