After Pulse, I read Science Articles for Comfort

Amy Watkins
Aug 6, 2018 · 2 min read
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Orlando, 2016

Last night you left the porch light on, and this
morning I watched the shadows of palm leaves
like knives on the closed blinds: a corona
of blades, a child’s drawing of the sun.
Today is the 4th of July and, this year,
all of us — not just the police officers,
not just the soldiers with PTSD —
will imagine gunfire, look for a way
out. With the blinds closed, our home is a ship
on the ocean and we are in bed
below decks, the light through the blinds, diffused
as if by water, the traffic and neighbors
just waves or the voices of those seabirds
that soar for days without touching land.

I read a hundred pages on albatross
and frigatebirds: how far they range, how they
conserve energy for their long flights, what
happens when a bird is lost at sea —
three weeks on the wing and no land in sight.
An albatross in the North Atlantic
is called a vagrant. No current exists
to carry it home. I need to know how
humans might evolve, pass on survival,
how long a porch light can pass for the sun,
how long we can drift in this house that is
only a boat in the morning before
the blinds open, before what we’ve taken
for birdsong becomes a human voice.

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