The world appears to be tipping sideways
since the election. Some say it must break
to be set right. I, for one, am frightened.
If and when it tips, who will be broken?
All of this hums like the refrigerator.
I hear it when everything else quiets like
four a.m., realizing though, that it buzzes
all day long.
We keep doing life, what else should we do?
The bills will still come due. It still feels good
to wash my hair.
On my day off, I take a hike,
talking to strangers, discovering wild
and dangerous mushrooms after the recent rain.
Paula says that mushrooms and spiders
hold the world together.
This makes me love her.
Death angels, like ghostly tulips, haunt the groves
of second growth redwoods. They grow in rings
like the trees, which are clones of felled giants.
Some things come back.
I meet an elderly couple and their elderly dog,
a blue merle with blue cataracts and a limpy gait.
She loves me instantly, as only dogs can. I love her too
and tell the couple how glad I am to spend time with her
since at home, there are only cats
who are terribly demanding
and give the worst presents.
The woman agrees, then confesses her grief.
Her cat, who slept in the curve of her neck,
died after seventeen years together.
She tears up when she tells me,
and so do I. We hug with our eyes,
an impromptu support group
for the bereaved.
I decide to try the upper trail. Suddenly, I need
to be in better shape. I felt this way after 9-11,
wanting to know I could run as far as those
with a child in my arms.
I get a little lost, going farther and higher
than I thought I could. I will pay for it tomorrow,
but today I feel stronger. Today I feel loved
by the musty earth, the softness of pine needles
decomposing beneath my feet, the squeals
of children down a ways, a beacon,
beckoning me back to the paved path,
the road I know.
My lungs full of oxygen, my bra soaked with sweat
my thoughts quieter, for now, I head home
to the hot shower that awaits me.
How lucky I still am.
I get to wash my hair.
Julie Levin is a graduate of JFKU’s Counseling Psychology program. This original work was shared in the John F. Kennedy University Poetry Reading celebrating National Poetry Month in April.