A stack of letters sits on my desk. I wrote them to friends last week and forgot to put them in the mail, and now I don’t know if I can send them. Having read a bit of Shakespeare and Lord Byron, having translated Cicero and Caesar, I know it can be difficult to understand writing from a different time. I will reopen the envelopes and write the words in the world I live in today.
My friend from England messages me, and I use the word awful when I really mean that I can’t seem to get out of bed.
On the way to the office I see my classmate. We hug for the first time. She says her daughter is afraid, the five-year-old who colors and sleeps during our three hour research class on Tuesdays. She says even five-year-olds know.
For once no one says “good.” Everyone takes a few more seconds to speak. We wait and listen. I see tears and hear stories of the violent incidents that have happened here just today. I wonder when, even if, I will wear a head wrap on this campus again.
I am worried he will appear in my poems.
I do not trust my words, so I spoon out yeast into a bowl of warm water and sugar. I wait.
I walk into the grocery store and scan over the faces, wondering which of them is my enemy. I hate that I do this.
I scrub the bathroom down. Shower, toilet, sink, floor. I vacuum. I sweep. I wash the dishes. I submerge my hands in soapy water. I rinse them again and again.
I have a reoccurring daymare that all of my poems will come out with a stench.
I cut out images and rearrange them and none of it makes sense.
I search for beautiful things to touch me, cherry almond lotion, my freshly washed sheets, the sound of Black artists. I listen to their words, and I read them. I want their strength to rapture me.
When I roll the dough with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon, the insides start spilling off of the counter. I smile at the sugar trail dripping to the floor.
I have very brave friends, some I have known for months and some for years. I will write them new letters to tell them how beautiful they are, especially in this world.