Since December I have had five minor surgeries. Although I thought I might not survive one of them (after a ghoulish week of fevers, nightmares, and retching that followed an oral bone graft), I have nonetheless emerged intact and much surprised by my physical strength and resilience.
I find, though, that I am filled with dread and am afraid I won’t recover from another kind of affliction that dogs me: one that tells me I might not be able to survive the hate and fear that infects Washington, a good many of our citizens, and untold others across the globe.
Since we installed in Washington a man and his coterie of sadists who reflect all that is dark and unholy within us, I have been made to question what in me could have helped birth such a tragedy. And I have been made to question something I have never given any thought to, much less lost sleep over — namely whether the democratic freedoms I have taken for granted could disappear in my lifetime or whether our republic would be sturdy enough to survive this grave wound.
I am haunted through my days and nights by images of hateful men (and women, sadly) determined to destroy the fragile threads that bind our world — since of course what happens here happens there…and there. But I have not felt like writing because I am not inclined to write about things unrelated to the peril we face; yet, my despair is so pervasive that I do not think I can offer much that would be of solace. Soon, though, I will hope to try and find some useful words.
Anyone who has left love,
who has stepped out of the boat, onto
the water, learns what they had not known
or wanted to. Anyone
who turns their back on love, as if
it might not take too long for them to go
all the way around and come up behind it—
anyone who lets love go,
opens their hand while walking through
a crowd, as if getting, piece by piece,
rid of evidence, will lose,
along with evidence of the thing,
the thing itself. Anyone
who sets love down, and takes their eyes
away, anyone who travels far
when love is home, anyone
who homes alone when love is far,
will lose what cannot be found. Maybe they
thought love was the earth under
the road, or the road under the sole
of the shoe or the foot under the body but by now it is
back there. It was a bush like a fire,
and now—no more fragrance or light
will be inhaled, or seen, as when
you die you will not see the world again.
Even if you thought you had not
believed you were loved, something in you
knew that you were—and you stepped right off love’s roof.
Rusty, my father’s golden retriever, was revered. My father, who each weekend cooked her fresh organ meats, loved her more than he loved my stepmother, my brother, and me. My stepmother loved Rusty more than she loved my brother and me. And I loved my father more than I loved anyone, including Rusty, though I very much loved Rusty. My brother, it seemed, was fairly indifferent to the lot of us and wasn’t what you would call a dog person.
This morning, I awoke from a dream about Rusty, who has been dead some 40 years, but, as I wandered across that vaporous, atemporal continent that separates dream from wakefulness, I believed she was still alive and was confused for some seconds about where on the timeline of my little life I stood.
Once I touched bed, pillow, table and saw mirror, bookshelf, clock, I remembered who I was and remembered, also, the man who has been installed in the White House. Just about every morning when I first open my eyes, his image — or the image of someone in his inner circle — appears, and I find myself needing more air than seems available. This morning I recalled what my stepmother once told me about sleeping dogs with twitchy legs and paws: They’re dreaming about running, she said.