Sometimes, when it was hiding in our homeland, we would feel its aftermaths in succession, running our fingers along the seams of cracked earth. Means for making meaning, ever mutating, make new forms where the formers are buried. We move soil to make room for our dead. Seedlings, too––even then.
We could not call it war until we survived it. In the meantime, it was living. It was diapers and babies, earaches and crackers and someone still had to milk the cows, walk the dogs, and soak the beans overnight.
What did you do? They will ask us later. Possibly we will forget by then, how we folded laundry and clipped toenails. How sometimes, even then, someone would show up with a cake, and someone else would find plates. We would pass slices one at a time, among the living.
We’ll see, we kept saying.
We baked bread and held the babies. We remembered bread and babies. We sat in parked cars and shook our heads, wondering about the others behind glass, shaking heads, and at the ones walking in circles in the intersection who waved their arms and shouted what we could not decipher, yet. We looked often to the creatures nearby. We kept them close in our homes, in our cars, in our beds. We studied their movements and tried to read their eyes and faces. We gave daily reports of their movements and kept watching, as with oracles. They were judging us, we knew. But how?
The children looked away and seemed to talk less, and the outside play we had once taken for granted now seemed fraught, as with religion and history and plans. Everywhere you looked, there were images over images, and they held us. Most of what we did was wait and watch. We’ll see, we said, we’ll see, but it was more of a question. We watched the sky, watched the bread, watched the ovens, watched the pets.
We watched the children. There was something we wanted to tell them. We were waiting for the right words.