Friday, February 16, 2018

Happy Birthday Mom


I scribbled thanks to the universe in my notebook - a thanks
that your body and your house and your care were where 

I landed and continue to land.

I sit at your table and lie in your arms and I think, 
what a warm world this is, and what a world our world 
would be if every mother could be as generous in love 
as you. Wars would be resolved with pillow letter apologies. 
Everyone would be offered full mugs in the mornings and bottles 
and blankets in the evenings. There would be storytelling and laughing 
and long tangling discussions. It would be a safe, civil, friendly, trustworthy 
world because every person would know that at least they had their mother.

Thank you, Mom 
for your wild joy and your tenderness, your honesty, courage, 
and vulnerability. Thank you for showing me what it is like to be human.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

MEDICINE

Blue elderberry syrup 
slides from measuring cup
to warm mug. I turn up
the bottle of wildflower honey
and squeeze a glassy stream,
while pockets of peppermint tea
soak, sink, bleed and steam,
my spoon spinning a gold green.


I beg my daughter to sit and open
her mouth and take her medicine.
She puts them in
then takes them out: three little pills
on a flat piece of porcelain,
an archipelago in a cloudy spit puddle,
I dry them with a cotton cloth napkin.
Please sit and take this medicine.

Fevers, coughs, pediatric doctors,
far too many lamplit sleepless hours,
that I imagine hiding us at this house
beside the dirt, hills, and woods
clean and cluttered and close
with mugs, music, walks and paper books:
maps of paths, of people, places
stories on pasteurized paper pages.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

FULL MOON AT 4 AM

Wide orb draped in
wool and water, 
I pause
to take a picture.
[A blot of dull black eternity
trapped in rectangle screen
lit by a faint bulb
that dangles miles
from this dog and me.]

See, fool, see!
Be swooned,
be still, be swallowed
by the open mouth of the moon.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

THE SUN IN EARLY DECEMBER

The Sun in early December,
soon after breakfast, dangles
between the hills like a smooth
gold pendant pressed to the pink chest
of morning, as if she were the reflection
of herself and not the origination of reflection
and of light. A sight not of metal, nor moon, nor water,
but fire upon fire upon fire upon fire...

Oh what a sweet and simple revelation:
this realization that the origin of creation
lights my every day! Oh how I'd like to be
as beautiful, as useful, as meaningful
as the Sun in early December.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Our Second Night in the Hospital

How do you ask them, the parents of the three-month-old with the wet cough, and the wet diapers, and the wired crib, in the hospital room you now share, the small hospital room with only a wispy screen between you (a screen thin as eyelid skin), how do you ask them to please turn out the light? Or to leave? To go out past the plastered painted wall and into the white lit hall, away from their baby and away from yours. For your child who is only seven hours past high flow air and still coughing and wearing her eyes open, squinting and blinking, while her ears can't keep from ringing and her legs won't quit their kicking, her body refusing to lie flat in her bed (her inflating, deflating, holey hospital bed - a bed made for bed sores but not little bodies). Your child who won't stop screaming for her daddy. Your child who wants her freedom, but still requires confinement to this room and to her sleep, for it is nearly midnight on her second night and still she is not sleeping.

I cannot ask them to hide their wary conversations and questions about asphyxiation and deep chest congestion, if there is enough breast milk in the belly of their baby, their vomiting newborn baby with the swollen airway and the oxygen tubes torn from her face for an itch, for liberation, while machines beside her crib won’t quit their beeping.

No. I cannot ask them for anything. Not even when my toddler starts howling. Instead, I try to drown their discussions with a recording of the sea. However and unfortunately, their voices prevail as they set sail (with seeming ease) over the raspy waters of even my highest volume. So I make a tent over our mouths and it quickly fills with our warm breaths and then her hot coughs and then her hushed sobs and soon her wretched wails and feet flails. I sing hushed lullabies and pleas to weep more quietly, but still, I do not speak up.

Eventually, the nurse turns out the light and asks if everything is alright and it isn’t and so sobs fall out of me as if I am sick because I feel sick. "It's just so bright and loud and she's so overtired now. I'm afraid she's going to get sick again from not sleeping." Inhales stack inside my lungs like splintered ladder rungs, up up up, too high now to hold up and in ...

"She won't get sick again." The nurse purrs as my child lies on my body, her belly expanding my quivering belly as I try not to speak my secret too loudly for there is only a wispy screen between us and they are the parents of the three-month-old baby with the wet cough and the wet diapers, and the wired crib and I want to be helpful, but of course, this is not at all helpful.

"Are you going to sleep for your mummy?" She asks, stroking my darling's back, the back all the doctors and nurses have been pressing with their stethoscopes for two days in their searches for rattles and wheezing.

My daughter answers her question with sleeping, and with breathing that billows like a breeze into my sucking, shaky middle.

"It's hard to sleep in a hospital."

I try so hard to be silent then, to swallow this mother's bile, but after the angel in blue scrubs leaves and closes the door, I lie in the blue blinking light, hidden, while my face spreads and stiffens into a wide frown of weariness, of shuttering gasps and warm streams that wet the plastic hospital pillows beneath me. Then I hear her soft sniffles (sobs clutched by shame and freed without permission by the other mother's tortured exhaustion). She, my neighbor, is a stranger in this foreign place of bleach and medicine, but close kin to me in all this human emotion.

There is still nothing I can say, not now without sobbing, and so I say nothing at all, and we lie with the wispy screen between us, whispering our weeping, while our small sick children keep sleeping, and it feels like a kind of conversation.

For the rest of the night, she leaves off her lights and speaks in gentle murmurs. Maybe she even walks past the plastered painted wall, out into the white lit hall, to converse about her baby's survival.

I don't know.

I lie my daughter down and cover her in blankets, then I go to the other bed and wait in the shallow slumber of a tired mother’s night.

In the morning, we make our apologies through soft-spoken awkwardness as if a vulnerability were embarrassing because society tells us that vulnerability is embarrassing and not what we all need to be ok and less alone.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

FOX & DOG

A million mighty flocks of snow
flakes swoop, sink, circle, soar,
all feathery, small and slow,
piling into a potter’s porcelain floor.

Up the landscape, in copper pelt cape,
she turns, black-footed fox in flight,
and she turns a sweeping escape
into a fluttering burst of rusted light.

You pull me by the arm and so we run
toward that boney orange arrow.
Oh how the wild paints and stuns!
Abandons! My eyes burn with color.

I want to drop the rope that holds you to me.
I want to drop the rope that cages you
to me and away from your history.
I want to watch you blur into the blue.

You would follow her gold fur
far and wide and into the wild, or
you would chase her until you were
red with her: this your ancient sister.



    

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Earth and Music


Image result for small earth



You need me. Earth moans through wind gusts, floods and fires. I'm tired and ill and I don't want to, but I will blow you down. I will drown you in your timber houses, in your glass sky scrapers, in your metal mobile homes. You can hide in your cement cellar bunkers, but eventually you will need me. You will need my soil and water and sunshine and air. You will need my spirit too. 

The earth wears weapons everywhere. She has a whole arsenal. Not of police gun powder, the daggers of terrorists or the pontificated, exaggerated lies of presidents, but of a quiet gentle roar. Love. Fill your packs, pockets and hearts with it for love fights too. It fights with newborn baby cries, fights with anthologies, with anthropologists and apologies, with scientists, stories, theater, music, parades, protests, amateur poetry, tears and time. It fights with the wandering wind, reunions, rainbows, coffee, wine and sunshine. It fights with forgiveness and trust, empathy, connection, collaboration and philosophical conversation. It's why there are sailboats and ski slopes and air balloons, why there are round tables, picture books, paint, bicycles and violins. For we need love in all its manifestations. Without it, we will surely see the end of the human race: the deaths of seven billion broken hearts. So be beautiful and brave. Love and be loved. 

I was ingesting the news like medicine. I must take it, I thought, to deserve this life as a light skinned American citizen. I do nothing else to help. I read and love and write. I write words for myself, and write words to be tossed and lost to the clamorous, crowded internet. I would soak my soul in the stuff, pausing occasionally to send out prayers to the sky, or God, or the ceiling, or myself. But then it became too much. Too many tragedies, too many infuriating, overwhelming, confusing tragedies. 

I'm a full time working mom now. It is sweet and stressful and fulfilling, and busy, so very busy. Most nights, there is dancing before bathing and teeth brushing and books in bed. We call them dance parties. Soon as the speaker starts blowing out beats, I let my body react to the music, flow to the rhythms and rattle, twist, and shake. If my body is holding, hoarding, or molding any worry into my internal cracks and waterways, I address each limb and muscle and say, let it go...for this drum beat, whip it gone, shake it out, jump it up, and move it out and move on. I need sleep to live, but sleep and stress are like a child who is loved and a child who is neglected and lonely. I will not be granted awards for grinding my teeth while I sleep. I tell myself. I will not be given grants and trophies for developing heart disease and diabetes, so MOVE baby, move. Let in the music and move. No news at night, not anymore. Music and paper books, pajamas and lullabies. There is talk too and the splash and flow of sink water, sponges and soap, and the quiet clatter of porcelain dishes and glass and metal. There is laughter and story telling and most nights, we keep our cell phones away, ignored and left to purse pockets or high up on kitchen counters. Most nights, we are able to leave the world outside our windows.

I haven't been reading or receiving the Sunday newspaper. I paused delivery in early September. I didn't have the time to even sit and pull it from it's plastic sleeve, but I don't know if I want it anymore anyway. This past year has felt like a tremendously long rising action of anticipation for a climax that becomes more wet with blood and salt water with each passing day. So now I find myself hiding from the news, camping out in a small tent of daily details. But I need to remember that when I gave birth two years ago, I didn't look. I let my midwife and the doctor watch my body as it expanded and brought forth my baby, while I pushed and inhaled and exhaled and pushed and inhaled and exhaled, but maybe if I had sat up and seen my body, seen it as it took perfect (and yes, painful) care of me, I would have been less frightened. Instead I saw the worry in my midwife's eyes, and the dark insides of my own eyelids and the hurried arrival of a c-section team. 

I'm looking for some of it again, finding people standing together for truth, dignity, kindness and love. To watch and appreciate the world as she swallows our smog and blows her storms into our cities and be grateful and kind to her. I see you. I see you holding us between your trees and seas and grasses. I see you growing clouds and letting down your rain. I see you melting and sweating and breaking. I see you and I love you. 


Thursday, August 17, 2017

What about their rights?

You carry lit citronella lawn lanterns. You wear polo shirts and white kkk hoods and confederate flags.  You strap black helmets to your heads and carry plastic shields and walkie talkies. You wear war paint and swastikas and faded tattoos. Some of your beards are white and frizzy. Many of your crew cuts are combed and greasy. And all of your mouths spit and spew horrific ignorance as you hold out your hands to a dead Hitler and shout,
JEWS WILL NOT REPLACE US! IT'S OUR RIGHT!
JEWS WILL NOT REPLACE US IT'S OUT RIGHT.
JEWS WILL NOT REPLACE US IT'S OUT RIGHT. 

A few days later, I sit and close my eyes and re-imagine your rally... 

While circling the brass statue of your civil war hero, you are all suddenly surrounded by the dead. First, the spirits of the Native Americans murdered by European settlers or displaced and disgraced by American governments walk up beside you, singing their old songs of sorrow. What about our rights? They ask. Next, the ghosts of every slave who died in captivity, every lynched runaway, every innocent person of color killed by cops or angry white mobs stand like a glowing flock behind you, silencing your stupidity with their existence and presence - more human dead than you are alive. What about our rights? They ask. Last, the souls of the Jews and homosexuals murdered by Nazis soar through the sky and float above you, hovering over your heads like a cloud in a gas chamber. What about our rights? They ask. 

You believe in your supremacy, but your entire platform is literal proof that you are not above everyone else, but so very far below them.  

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Charlottesville


Shrill screams, scrambling, hollering,
as the engine of a sleek silver car speeds
into persons, bodies, citizens,
into souls wearing skin:
light skin,
dark skin,
holey pored,
freckled, scarred skin,
shiny soft/ ragged calloused skin,
wrinkled, weathered, lined skin,
teenage skin, thirty two year old skin,
tight scalp skin in caps, kerchiefs and bobby pins,
dangling brown braids and tied back dreadlocks,
red, white and blond locks.
Skin inside cotton, clothing plucked by plows and stitched into denim,
tank tops, blood drenched socks, shorts, skirts, t shirts,
sneakers
slipping on
street dirt,
earlobes, eyelids, elbows,
blistered heels, flailing, flexing muscles,
spotty sunburned skin,
sweaty baby skin,
skinny pale skin,
brown round skin,
wet salty dead skin...
skin is
skin is
skin is
skin -
cells to hold breath and bones and
organs in.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The American Ocean (A Fictional Tale)



Our island was under siege from the sea. Now it is sunk, held down by the weight of water, muck and gravity. We fled. We were forced to surrender. And now we are refugees.

My husband is a fisherman. This morning, while he was out at sea, a storm blew in and surprised him and me. They had called the clouds a drizzle with a gentle breeze, but they were wrong. The sky turned dark, while the wind went cold and the clouds dashed toward the island like a swarm of black flies. He pulled everything out of the water and set off for home, but it took him hours.

By the time he reached us, it was mid-morning and the children and I were on the roof of our house. It was raining. We had just watched our 12-year-old dog slip into the water and drown. We were soaked, salty and sobbing. We climbed into the boat and without a word, he drove to where the harbor once held the water in her arms and docks in her dirt, where my parent’s house once stood surrounded by dune grass, seabirds and sand. We searched for the small cape on the short stilts with the weathered windows, but there was only water. Near the sinking lighthouse, I hollered and wailed until my throat burned and my tongue tasted like pennies. I couldn’t keep the agony inside of me. It was too big, bigger than the wind, bigger than the clouds so full of rain, bigger than the whole wet world. My grief frightened the children as they gathered around me, a bony, goose-pimpled blanket, and wept with me, soaking my hair, shorts and shoulders with their stringy snot and tears. We left. It was no longer raining, but the water was still rising.

We are going southeast now. We don’t have fuel for a long journey, nor much food or clothing. It all happened so quickly. Yet we knew this day would come. The scientists warned us. And we tried. We island dwellers created a green industry. We had solar fields and wind turbines and those of us who could afford it even had electric cars and traded in summer motor boats for sails, surfboards, rowboats and bicycles. We were making progress. We surpassed our goals and inspired many other communities and countries, but it didn’t save our island. The experts had all agreed that we had at least twenty-five years before the big melt, but it appears, we only had three.

Our littlest one is three years old. He’s been clinging to me ever since I carried him to the roof in my arms and tied his body to my torso with a towel. Our middle child is seven. She is strong and shy with large grey eyes. Our eldest is fourteen. I had her when I was seventeen. She’s a thinker and a voracious reader, just like my mother, her grandmother.

We survived because of the tall stilts. The ocean washed over the town last year, pulling away any sense of control we thought we had. And when the insurance company sent us our check, we spent it all and more on rebuilding, but I wouldn’t build on the ground, never so low and close to the uncertain sea again. So we built the new house high up on stilts. I love that house. I loved that house. It was raw, still unpainted in places, but sweet and often smelled of sawdust, cod, boiled crab and wild berry pie. It was new and clean. It was home.

Tonight, the children lie together on the boat’s bench cushions, while my husband and I stay up late, holding each other like soft metal spoons. He is brown from thirty-three summer suns, strong and bold with a quick wit and an enormous amount of optimism, but this is tragedy like we’ve never experienced before. This is catastrophic trauma. And it makes us speechless and sleepless.

“We are refugees.” I say.

“Yes.” He confirms.

A little later, we play opposite parts.

“We are refugees.” He says.

“Yes.” I say.


After a few days at sea, we meet the infamous wall. It is massive, like an anchored ship that never ends. It spoils the raw fish in my gut. I heard it was a thousand feet high just as I had heard that it was made of steel, stone, cement, broken vehicles and junk yard scrap. I am surprised by how rude the structure feels, ungracious in its mere existence. It is flat gray with glass and metal glinting in the sunlight. We float beside it for miles. Embedded in the cement wall are cars, boulders, 18-wheeler trucks, tractors, trains, tires, airplane parts, refrigerators, stoves and washing machines. It was built during the seven-year drought, which followed the last devastating flood. Now the wall only stands approximately ten feet above sea level.

“I think we should live up on the wall.” My husband declares one day, while we sit on the boat, sharing cold slimy cod.

“What if the water rises?” I ask.

“We keep the boat close. Get back on it when we need.”

The truth is, the boat isn’t going to last much longer, let alone another serious storm, but we don’t want to say that part out loud.

We are the first family on the wall, for as far as we can see. We move into a sideways train car. We have to bash a window to get inside, but it is warmer and more spacious than the boat. The wall sways ever so slightly with the tide. It creaks and whistles with the wind. We build a rain barrel and a fire pit out of scrap metal and start cooking our catches. We teach the girls how to fish. We cook and eat (nearly) everything we pull up. One morning, we watch a pod of orca whales glide by. And every day, birds of all kinds: hawks, crows, little song birds, seagulls, eagles and geese stand atop the wall to rest, sleep and eat. We try, but fail to capture any of these birds.

Every day and every night, we look down to the foreign country behind the wall and we see dry land. We stand at the height of the tallest skyscrapers and look down to roads still busy with cars, apartment buildings with electricity, office buildings with window blinds, bridges, and tree-covered hills. Airplanes and helicopters pass overhead sometimes, but they don’t stop. They don’t land on the wall or let down ladders - no matter how desperately we run and wave and jump.

After some time, another boat arrives with a skeletal woman in a torn dress and long black hair, golden skin and big brown eyes. Her motor boat is nearly out of gas. She’s been looking for land or a way through the wall. We feed her fish and she gives us a bag of dry black beans. Later, another fisherman and his teenage son arrive. They are from further south. They have a tent and sleep atop the wall. Then two middle aged men in a rickety raft join us. They call themselves brothers until they feel safe enough to say that they are not brothers, but lovers. They are from our northern country. They sleep in a car on the side of the wall. There is a woman and her 10-year-old son from the north. They walk to the train after crashing into the wall, killing the son’s father, her husband and destroying their sailboat. They break into another train car and make it their home, sleeping in seats that no longer recline. A cruise ship arrives. Then three more ships full of passengers and crew - all homeless, hungry refugees from countries now under water. Submarines arrive full of soldiers - hollow cheeked, grieving, pale, worried, weary men and women. Everyone needs drinking water. We trade fish for wheat and rainwater for cans of pineapple rings.

Many return to their boats and ships and subs to sleep in their bunks every night. To sleep with their blankets and pillows and the trinkets they managed to carry with them while running from the flood. But when the captains all declare that they can no longer use fuel for carrying people to and from the wall, most everyone moves to the wall. They don’t want to be out at sea when the border eventually opens and the country allows refugees to enter.

We build rain catchers and cast fishing lines and nets. We pry planks from the broken wooden boats for firewood. At night, we sit around our fires talking about the food we miss and the people we miss and the beds, beaches, books, beer, coffee, cheese, cookies, dirt and trees we miss. Many of us are sunburned and skinny. Everyone is thirsty. Some days, dread spreads among us, for tears and fears are quite contagious. Other days, we manage to distract ourselves with play and the work of survival. When the sea is calm and the sun is hot, we gather at the rusted red fire engine on the sea’s side of the wall. Half of the truck is embedded in the cement. We climb down to it and from its roof, we cannon ball and dive into the deep dark water below. No one has swimsuits. We swim in clothing or underwear. A few swim in the nude; no one seems to mind. My husband made a rope ladder by the fire truck for climbing out of boats and the water. It has become our dock and harbor.

The day we run out of drinking water, I weep and lick the teardrops from my chin and cheeks. We pray for rain. We sing for rain. We dance for rain. Late in the afternoon, the sky takes pity.

“Look Mumma!” My son says pointing.

Storm clouds begin blowing in from the south. When they reach us, they are so full and so low that rain pours from the sky as if from pitchers and hoses and sink spouts, wetting our cracked skin, and filling our cups and bowls and hands. We open our mouths and wait while water drips down our tongues, throats and nostrils. It takes hours for the sky to empty. We fill our bellies at foggy puddles, then take turns urinating behind the sails we have strung up along the edge of the wall.
The day after the rain, tanks and trucks and jeeps arrive on the ground below. We stop, watch and wait. We wait for water, wait for food, wait for empathy.

A man is lifted in a crane to speak with us. “YOU CAN’T BE HERE! YOU NEED TO LEAVE!” He shouts through a megaphone.

“Where do we go?” A voice near me shouts back, unheard.

“YOU ARE TRESPASSING AND YOU NEED TO LEAVE!”

A massive herd of hopeless, tottering souls, we stand at the edge of the thousand foot wall, addled and staring. We aren’t people to them, but silhouetted specks upon their border wall. We are strangers and foreigners and they don’t want us here. Just then, the wind gusts and swirls, causing the sea to flip and flop in an instant tempest. The water looks impatient, crowded, like a wild beast banging on the bars of a small cage, but instead of fur or feathers or flecks of slobber filling the air, hard, cold seawater soars, slaps and soaks us. We start walking north. What else can we do? We are trapped.

We walk up the center of our cement road. My husband and I hold the children between us. Soon, a second soldier arrives. They have orders to build the wall higher, he says. They need us to leave immediately. They won’t be taking in any refugees. There is hardly enough resources for the citizens. There is no hope for us, he implies. He sounds sad, but maybe he’s just embarrassed and afraid his orders will turn us into a mob of sorrow and rage. Then, just as the day before, the sky fills with robust rain clouds. The soldier says they don’t have time. They need to build the wall higher now to protect what little land the earth has left. On the ground, flatbed trucks line up carrying enormous bricks of cement and scrap. I look north and south. There are refugees for miles. The rain starts to fall. No refugees run or rush, for we all know that when the wall is wet, the wall is slick.

We can perish or we can protest. We watch one woman choose to perish. She walks to the edge of the wall. She doesn’t jump, but waits for the wind to whisk her away. I will see her flapping yellow tee shirt and her long black braid for the rest of my life. I knew her. She had lost everyone she loved. She was so skinny and yet so heavy and now she is gone. She didn’t speak my language, but she was a woman I knew.

While the cranes rise above us, the rest of us lie down. The wind blows over the wall and through the wall. The cranes pause, straining. Soldiers stand on the lifted bricks, clinging to chains and their big black guns. They fire shots into the air. I bury my face into my baby boy’s hair. It is wet with rain, but still smells of the sea. The wall scratches the side of my scalp. I shut my eyes and sing the only song I can think of.

“My Bonnie lies over the ocean,
my Bonnie lies over the sea,
My Bonnie lies over the ocean,
O bring back my Bonnie to me.”


“JUMP OR YOU WILL BE SHOT!”

“O blow ye winds over the ocean,
O blow ye winds over the sea.
O blow ye winds over the ocean,
And bring back my Bonnie to me."


A spray of bullets strikes the wall. I don’t know if anyone is hit, but we hear screaming. I hold my children so tightly I fear I am bruising them. The shots cause a car to loosen from the wall and fall. It feels like a scab ripping off in the shower. The shots cease. The car, once a bed for two lovers, lands in an explosion far below.

"Last night as I lay on my pillow,
Last night as I lay on my bed,
Last night as I lay on my pillow,
I dreamed that my Bonnie was dead.”


The crane operators are ordered to lay their bricks. As the first brick lowers over the refugees, bodies scatter. We all stand as the rain turns torrential. Two sailors from the south leap onto the brick as it settles, but they are shot and their bodies fall through the air and disappear into the water. The soldiers shout to back up, their guns pointing at us, the mob of sorrow and rage. I just keep singing.

“The winds have blown over the ocean,
The winds have blown over the sea,
The winds have blown over the ocean,
And brought back my Bonnie to me.”


As the second brick is lowered, the wind blows so hard that everyone crouches or sits. As we bend over, a bolt of lightning strikes the closest crane. Both men standing atop the brick, clinging to the chains, along with the crane’s operator, are electrocuted. The body of the operator drops and flops onto the controls, causing the crane to lower and land with such a force that our harbor, the rusted red fire engine, is knocked from the wall. Thunder booms as water surges through the gash, creating a tremendous waterfall. Many refugees run out of the way, but several are sucked through the spout and shot out into the air, falling with the seawater to the land far below. Our gasps, shrieks and wails are smothered by the wind, water and thunder. I pray that they die in the air and that it feels like flight, like freedom, and not like falling or suffocation or bone breaking or drowning. The water roars and tears through the breach in the wall. It uproots boulders, a train car, the wing of an airplane and a refrigerator. When a dumpster, several feet deep, is dislodged, the wall cracks and splits down as deep as we can see. The other cranes retreat to the ground, but when the dumpster flies through the air and the ocean erupts, water sweeps it all away. We lie on our bellies at the edge of the wall and watch as the speck becomes a sea. It takes days for this country to drown like all the other countries of our poisoned planet, but then it too is under siege from the sea, sunk, held down by the weight of water, muck and gravity.

The water of the world rushes to resettle. Eventually, global sea levels sink, dropping and eventually remaining below the last recorded levels, which were marked before the full melt and flood. Every other island, country and continent reappear - muddy and salty, with beached sea creatures and slimy seaweed, uninhabitable houses, landslides and a devastating loss of human and animal life, but soon the sun sends hope in growth, in hidden seeds and sprouting weeds. Food is found, grown, and caught, killed and cooked. Rainwater is collected and distributed. All along the northern and southern walls, pulley systems are set up for parachutes. Refugees are strapped in and sent floating down to the wet land below where they are no longer refugees or immigrants, but post-flood pioneers.


It takes weeks before we are leaping and weeping at the sight of our waterlogged landscape. When finally I float down and sink my feet into the cold mud of my homeland, I unhitch the parachute and knot it to the pulley. Then, with my boy on my back, I run up out of the mud to the dry dirt. My girls and my husband follow, but I am the fastest. I sit my son at the edge of the short scratchy dune grass. Then I collapse beside him and close my eyes. It will be winter soon, but I won’t worry about that today. Today is for sleeping and smiling. Today is for hope.

Within the wall, the old rich country lies far below what we now call The American Ocean, except for the mountain tops, which are islands now. Animals and birds and a few small tribes of people live there, foraging and hunting. The tops of the tallest skyscrapers stick out of the water too, while waves crash against spires and glass windows and walls of steel and stone. In the writing of our world history, America is never forgotten. Every 4th of July, we fill the sky with firecrackers in its honor and drink to the land and its people for their sacrifice. For this wall, we tell ourselves, this magnificently massive wall of cement and ramshackle vehicles and scrap metal, once built to protect the country from rising sea levels, now protects all of us, the whole world, by holding our surplus seawater in its large salty swimming pool. And for that, we are grateful.