I imagine postcards, gathering in mailboxes as if they were eggs waiting to hatch, then, when the mailman unlocks the front, flying like hatchlings, clumsy, then graceful, catching currents of anger and frustration across the country, gathering in giant flocks that fly in the shape of arrowheads, homing in on Washington carrying words etched like feathers along their bellies. They may all end up in a landfill. But for a brief moment, I imagine them darkening the sky over Pennsylvania Avenue, causing him to look out his window at the approach, making him wonder what powerful birds approach.
As we drove through town, the streetlights strobed, intervals of darkness tearing at our hearts so roughly we could barely bear it by the time the light flickered on again.
This is how we navigated. We drove through moments of light, then moments of gloom that gutted us. We made bargains from split second to split second as we caught lightning-fast glimpses of the road a few yards ahead.
Once home again, we turned on all the lights, lit all the candles. We fell asleep like that, more afraid of the obscurity than of a house on fire.
If someone’s shooting at you, said the instructor, run diagonally back and forth. Never run in a straight line.
I envisioned this happening in a parking lot, someone firing calm and straight, me dashing and pivoting, dashing and pivoting, running toward life itself.
It is only now I see how this works in politics, how running on the diagonal means the weapons fired by the opposition, the watchdogs, the media are rendered inert. I watch the back-and-forth dash. First this way, then that way. First this excuse, then that.
Up there in the woods was a warm place, a place where the wind didn’t hit the way it did elsewhere, a place where she could tuck in and feel safer than usual.
He didn’t understand why she went there until he hiked up there with her, felt the grove above him like a cathedral, felt the distance from the rest of the world. How is it no one knows about this place but you? he said.
They’re too distracted to notice me leaving, she replied. They don’t have time to hide.
Wait, she said, but the rain still fell, washing the dirty world around her.
She spoke as if into silence, and no one responded. Was anyone even listening? She wondered if they could hear her over the weather.
I have things to say, she said, but again, no one paid attention. This is important.
But it wasn’t important enough for them to turn and look. She stood there, drenched and supplicant, her outstretched hands as invisible as her thoughts, her voice devalued yet again.
As I approached the bridge, I realized it was completely fogged in, the tollbooth at its base emerging from the mist like a lit ghost. But the sun rose over my left shoulder, and as I crossed the Bay, the fog began to burn off, so subtly it was hard to see it happening, but there was a glimpse of the water, and there was the lower half of a transmission tower, and there the upward arc of the bridge itself, the sun rising, the fog lifting, the road ahead emerging just in time for me to arrive.
Day turned to night. Protestors still walked the street. The helicopters circled over downtown after dark, the thrum loud enough to require elevated conversation as we walked along the sidewalk two miles away. What’s that? asked my son.
He peered up into the dark toward the light, bright as Venus, hovering in the distance. <i>Why?</i> he asked, and I did not know where to begin, how to explain the eyes in the sky, how to explain the thin line between protection and engagement.