My wife tells me of reading the Dear
America books as a child, those stories told
via the diaries of young women who lived
during difficult times in American history. In these
stories filled with suffering were the facts behind
the suffering. Her favorite involved the RMS Titanic,
the unsinkable ship that sank. I ask if
trying to imagine what it looked like was
what captivated, and she says no, says only
one book led to another, until she realized
she could never see it nor accept it.
After the election, my friend explains he feels
he could manage here, but not his children.
He explains he spoke to their school director,
who comforted by talking about police presence. But
if there’s police, he asks, before anything happens,
what will happen when something does? American algebra:
Everything is x until proven y. Dear America,
if x represents what my friend feels thinking
about the police, what language do you imagine
he worries his children speaking publicly, and what
language are we speaking now? Show your work.
Another friend writes: Here’s a verse I think
about a lot: And maybe the mirror of
the world will clear once again*. She shares
she’s been sick since the election, as I’ve
been. I imagine our voices trying to commiserate
between coughs. In physics, energy can neither be
created nor destroyed. What American physics happens here
as I read and hear her voice behind
the verse she sent? Are you, dear America,
afraid as I am that our faces will
no longer be there when the mirror clears?
* Faiz Ahmed Faiz
José Angel Araguz is a CantoMundo fellow and the author of six chapbooks as well as the collections Everything We Think We Hear (Floricanto Press) and Small Fires (FutureCycle Press, forthcoming). His poems, prose, and reviews have appeared in RHINO Poetry, New South, and The Volta Blog. A current Ph.D. candidate at the University of Cincinnati, he runs the poetry blog The Friday Influence.
Header photo of hands on wall by Simmons B. Buntin.