Today is normal.
I wake up to red badges of notification on a screen. Each morning, I allot the five minutes after my eyes open to scrolling them. Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. WhatsApp. Slack. Gmail. Tumblr. I hate the sight of the numbers in the corner so I clear them as quickly as I can, leaving a few as reminders something needs to be done.
Today the timelines are red. They are black.
They are full of bodies losing breath against pavement. Bodies choking dogs because blackness dares talk back or speak up. Bodies indifferent to death and destruction under a blanket of excuses. I scroll quickly, praying for no auto-start videos or audio, because I want to keep my soul clean. I want to keep my eyes clean. I want to keep my heart clean.
Today this is impossible.
Today the timelines are black. They are red with anger that I know will darken into a bruise. Into a scar that becomes a story when people need a little sympathy.
This timeline is a dichotomy.
Of women trying to place articles about COVID even while the bodies are still falling.
Of men making jokes about fucking women and how we are all crazy.
Of graduations and parties and parades.
Of reasons why we don’t need to wear masks.
Of 100,000 dead.
This morning, there is only one body that matters because millions more prop it high enough for us to see if only for a moment.
Today is normal in its abnormality.
I clear the badges. Find the humor in what else this could mean. Clear the badges from their chests but what’s underneath still remains.
Clear the sleep from my eyes, still blind and feeling my way through grief that is always there. Like atmosphere or smoke, but not like breath.
Athena Dixon is the author the poetry collection No God in This Room (Argus House Press) and the forthcoming essay collection The Incredible Shrinking Woman (Split/Lip Press September 2020). Her work has appeared in publications both online and in print. A native of NE Ohio, she resides in Philadelphia. Learn more at www.athenadixon.com