March 11, 2021

Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach 

Dear L,

On the anniversary of the first case in Philadelphia,

it would be too simple, too easy to write

this has been the shortest-longest year

of our lives, and yet, it has. Feels monumental,

doesn’t it, L, though what will stand, except

for us to mark this time? Of every figure

cast in stone or metal, my son confirms,

They’re dead, right? And begs no figure ever stand

of me. Says goodnight belly and goodnight neck, gives each

their own farewell as though he could keep

the parts of me he’s named, the way I keep his

stick-figure drawings, their arms long enough

to knot around so many torsos. This is me

hugging Clara and Makela and Charisma and

you too, Mama, he says, even after all this

distance, insistent conditioning to fear

other people’s bodies, I have failed

to teach him how not to wrap his arms

around a stranger. I wish I had

some big revelation to share with you tonight,

we owe ourselves some lesson, something gained,

but I just hear: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

and think, fuck no, and god, I don’t say fuck

around my children or ever really, but

fuck no, L, what doesn’t kill us,

what didn’t kill our great-grandmothers,

both named Vera, faith, hurt them,

hurt us, bad enough, we all almost wish

we’d died. Almost. And yet, we’re here.

Say it with me, Mama, we are here, still

standing, holding, our arms wide, believing,

for this brief moment, we can reach

far enough to touch the sun.


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