Reaching Out

a hand reaches out to the shadows
On most days now,
I reach out 
to friends and loved ones
who look at the world 
through a different lens.
Just to say hello.
I reach out to my best amigas, too, 
who are feeling kind of how I’m feeling,
our reaching back and forth–
sharing texts and articles and poems and emojis–
it holds each other up.
I reach out to cousins
there on the ground
who might have been us
but for two hundred random moments– 
a passport stamp, a bribe, 
the nod of a certain official.
I say utterly inadequately
Thinking of you.
I reach into the place
of nightmares and shadows 
that I’ve come to know
like my own babies–
the calls of ancestors
who didn’t live:
murder, gas chambers, pogroms,
ignited viscerally in my cells
these last ten days.
You’re okay, sweetheart.
You’re here, safe.
A thousand hours
sitting on the meditation pillow
so I can speak 
in a calming voice
to the sleeping beast of my fear,
so she doesn’t devour me from the inside. 
So I can tell her Back off! Enough!
A strange thing happened the other day–
I was reaching
in the darkness
to grasp any sense of hope–
Imagining what
a different sort of world
might feel like.
Just then, hope started
reaching toward me,
as alive and animated
as my own unimaginable heart–
a red, bloody, fleshy thing
that never stops pulsing,
even now, while I write these words.
Do you know not long ago
my heart kept beating 
even when I had to look head on
at my own death? 
It beats through everything!
Maybe hope is somehow like that?
My Buddhist friend tells me
it will take 
seven thousand years
at least
for us to learn how to
feed and care for each other.
That seems right, considering where we are.
I nod yes,
knowing how many lives 
I will have to live and suffer  
to reach that place,
that Gan Eden.
(if the earth doesn’t boil, I add to her.
If we don’t boil the earth, I say, 
because my new friend hope insists on truth.)


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