“‘Heaven’—is what I cannot reach!” ~ Emily Dickinson
How can we be happy again, someone asked; how can we ever feel safe. The girl with the striped headband said, We can. I want to hug all those children who survived and tell them, I just know everything will be all right. Some of the people in the group stood under the far end of the dripping awning to smoke. It kept raining and stopping, raining and stopping, so there was nothing to do but go into the mall to watch a movie. When we came out, night had fallen. We crossed the grassy triangle and let ourselves through the kitchen door. We made dinner: garlicky chicken and rice in broth, a four day old loaf of bread split down the middle, buttered, quickly revived under the grill. Enough for everyone to share. Who was Tantalus? I heard someone ask in the course of conversation. There was ambrosia involved. Stolen nectar from the gods, which in my childhood was the name of a sweet rolled up in colored cellophane for the holidays, dense with citrus and dates and nuts. Punishment, always punishment— for giving in to desire and snatching what the body said it wanted, needed, wanted. The mouth being only the first passage. What the branches bore, gold and sweet and heavy— What the water offered to quench the hot little fire in the gut— The question is always: Does anything ever completely satisfy? Run for it, I want to say. Yes, run with that broken-off branch and the purloined sweetmeat, run even now and celebrate the brightest flame you can find to share with others huddled in the dark.
In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.