poetry

Channels

There are over four hundred channels,
More channels than there are
Ice cream flavours
At the grocery store,
But they all say the same thing—
Not good enough, strong enough,
change enough,
Because the world is broken,
And so are its people.

That’s the diagnosis, the officials don’t say—
The world is broken,
And that’s scary
Because you broke your wrist as a child
And you remember that the doctors
Had to reset the bone,
Like what Daddy does
When Mommy
freezes the computer,
But it sounds different now,
Like wiped clean,
Like everything goes,
Even the people.
Like two by two,
And skies that don’t dry,
And tears that finally match
The ones of the children on TV,
And it scares you,
Because everything scares you,
Even the people.

There is a bubble,
And you can live inside it,
Exist inside it,
Subsist inside it,
But you remember
Being four and
Making messes in the bath
And seven and
Chasing the reflective light
down sidewalks
And nine and
Pouring more soap in the sink,
Barely washing the dishes,
And you remember
Bubbles
P o p.

Always,
They pop.

You can change the channel,
Care for a minute about
Custody battles and divorces
Of people you’ve never
Met,
Laughing at the stories,
Of fictional people
You will never
Meet.
Or,
You can turn it off.

You can turn it off,
And pretend it’s okay,
That your small world
Will never be like
The big, bad world.
That you will be safe.
Because you remember
Being ten and
Running your way
Home,
And the way you were
Safe.
It sounds different now,
Means different now,
Less about points
More about always
Evening the score.

But when you turn it on,
You have to be reminded
That while you were eating
Dill pickle chips from the bag
And watching—on repeat—
The smiling dog flying
Into the pool,
People, human, children
Were dying.
Are dying.

People, human, children
Are dying.

And we can watch,
Keep the channel on,
Cry into our pillows,
Wonder if we are
The type of broken
That needs to be
Reset,

Or if we are just sprained,
Fractured,
Ready for repair.

There’s a little girl on TV,
Just in the background,
Because reporters and
Adults are shouting and it
Drowns her out.
But she is there,
Teary faced and there,
And there is a little girl
Beside me,
Smiley faced and here,
Asking where her movie went,
Why I changed the channel,
And I don’t know the answer,
Just that she is not yet broken,
Not even close,
And I wonder if she—
And the crying child on TV—
If they are the reset button,
The clean slate for us all,
Smiling, crying, human.
Good enough, strong enough,
Change enough.

I don’t turn the TV off,
Because bubbles pop
And bones break
And safety, sometimes,
You have to create.
The world rages on, and
Everything breaks—
Even the people—
But somehow,
We’re still holding on.

Because there’s a little girl
On TV
Who shows a smile now
Behind her tears,
And it’s possible,
We think, with a
Mouthful of chips,
That she’s not broken yet.
And so,
We hold on.

 

 

…And, just in case you need it today: