The first thing we notice is silence.

The earth holds its breath. You find yourself mimicking it but a pounding heart smashes through the quiet and you’re on the verge of a full-blown panic. Because bluebirds have disappeared from the bright canopy of sky. Because in your life, the vastness of the universe has begun to contract. And you can’t help but be aware of it. Edges of stars wash over you, slapping you in the face. Demanding that you notice once and for all how small and fragile and fleeting all of life has become.

So we stand. In silence. We stare. Wrapped in muted screams. Eyes bulged out wide. Blasting their disbelief at the moment of despair. Demanding repair for moments lacking in repair. Sidelined in confusion from the notes of an upside down world that cast about against an annoyingly bright canopy of sky, in spite of being a birdless canopy of sky. A waiting canopy of sky, idling anxiously in wait of joy.

We stand and stare. It’s not supposed to be like this. Staring unblinkingly into the mirror of the self, of the other self, and the millions of selves the world over. Walls and windows, plaster and beams and steel, plastic and wrappings between all of us.  Wide angled jaunts around each other. Gazes dropped like rocks away from each other. And yet we stare into screens. We stare out from windows. We stare down panic and fear and anger and compassion and love and longing and confusion as we stare down deep into the furthest reaches of our souls. As we stare right into and through the mirror, witnessing images of complete bareness. Expressions stripped of any pretense. Expressions molded by bravery, with every line, every tear, every soundlessly eye-d gasp somehow lifting the soul to the highest of heights despite clearly carrying the heaviest of burdens. Expressions of you. Expressions of me. Expressions of we. Every face into one. Every astonishment shared and felt. Every pounding heart smashing as an orchestra through the agonizing quiet flowing through the bright blue canopy of sky.

And we notice, always notice that the first thing you fully sense in these long days of quarantine, these meticulous days of virus count, these agonizing days of painful departures, these long long long days of waiting and hoping and wishing and wanting…the first thing we have to wade through is…

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