Empathy On The Line

(3:30am – October 22nd 2017)

I woke this morning before sunrise
to a clap of thunder
that shook walls of my home.
For the briefest of moments,
I believed my exploding, apocalyptic dreams
had somehow bled into my waking life.
I woke shell-shocked, shivering, covers thrown off,
chasing after my short and labored breath,
trying to pull myself into a better world than the one I just left,
yet hesitant to commit,
uncertain which world was less ominous.

I feel my personality break apart and scatter
like a pack of frightened children,
scurrying to hide behind the only adult in the room.
Stacking single file and peeking out from behind this guardian facade,
revealing themselves one by one,
like so many arms and heads emerging
to form a frightened Hindu God.

I move toward the war-torn morning
exhausted but hurried like a Chinese dragon,
chased from dusk till dawn by thunderous fireworks,
amidst a busy street parade.
Most of me wants to remain under cover,
hidden beneath the lavish costume
of this dragon’s long, drawn-out, tail
yet I am pushed forward like the rest
in a long line of blind scurrying feet
moving like a rhythmic gymnast’s ribbon
in sinuous undulation,
tracing a path toward an unknowable,
uncertain, and unforgiving destination.

Almost awake now.
Another flash of lightning in the darkness,
my illumined back yard speaks a tiny verse of melancholy,
revealing the clothes I had left on the line to dry the night before.
A fitting flash.
Clothes soaked and barely hanging on to a stretched and sagging line
that could snap at any moment under the water’s added weight.

Yet somehow, in the drenched heaviness of my dripping wardrobe,
I find the liberating voice of empathy
that sets me free.

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