When I am in the hospital, I think of you.
Also, a listicle of things that I am in awe of right now.
When I am in a hospital, I think of you. You, who are sitting elsewhere, upright, enduring the harsh sound of an engine, the exit of a feeling that is not your own. I think of you, habituated to the muffled breath underneath the blue mask they made you put on top of your own, the tedium of your exhale. When I am here, I think of Toni Morrison, who wrote books in the dark hours before her children rose, who went each day to the rude publishing towers and built a stage for Black liberation to secure an enduring broadcast. What I am thinking of is the moment you started at the sound but then chose to come back to reading this poem on a small screen that drains your joy but brings you me. I wonder if the motorist ever found a satisfying end to his motor rage? Was it one sharp satisfying breath in exchange for the attention he needs (but not the one you lost just then)? This moment, you understand, when I think about you, includes only this you in the future reading this now - not you whoever you were when I wrote this - and this me in the waiting room writing this now, realizing how we might be together if I only wrote more, starting now. When I am in the hospital lately, I think about the last moment I will have conscious, legible thought, wonder if I will know. It’s arrived? I said all I am going to say? It comes for all of us, but for some of us, the horizon becomes visible in the assent, singeing it’s lesion, toppling miles of verbal track in one bad, angry day. What should we do with one hour?
Okay, friends. This poem was composed in a waiting room. I’ve seen a lot of the inside of hospitals the last month because a family member got injured. But/and this waiting room moment was from a regular neurology appointment that went completely and totally fine. I really like my new Dr. and had dinner afterward with a friend in a city where people drive with little caution and jaywalk like woah.
The world is molten (we have surpassed whatever “on fire” got at) and the gaslighting is WHEW. But, tonight, I’m going to pull through with a listicle of things that I am in awe of:
Saeed Jones's new book of poems: Alive at the End of the World. I have spent at least an hour over the course of two days reading and re-reading the opening and title poem (or, the first instance of the title poem, because it returns to become multiple poems). The opening line: “The end of the world was mistaken for just another midday massacre in America.”
It is an astoundingly anti-gaslighting offering of being a feeling person in 2022 America, braided tightly into 20 lines. Get it! Also, Saeed has a Substack. I’ll add it to my recommended Substacks on the mainpage and it’s here:
The cool fall breeze. Gets me every time. I feel big joy, stomping around in boots and hoodie out in the world. I just want to BE in it all the time. Here’s a pic I snapped when I realized I had a wee bit more time before I needed to swoop my kids while running errands. I strolled right on by Emily Dickinson’s headstone and delighted at the fresh offerings others had left, imagining slightly awkward first years making a profound trek to offer her colored pens or… a spoon. Awkward loves awkward.
The amazing sky-cloud magic that happens where I live. Honestly, come visit just to marvel at it with me. The specific part of the valley I live in has a specifically majestic sky situation with dramatic cloud formations unlike anywhere I’ve lived.
I hope you find awe and a precious hour passed just how you want it to this week. Stay safe out there.
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