The day after that day, 4 years in the past, was funereal. Most individuals I spoke to stated it was like a funeral, and it was like a funeral too to different folks that they had spoken to. And so the phrase “funeral” grew to become commonplace. It was the phrase for the day, to the extent that, later, it grew to become a synecdoche for that day and the day earlier than it as properly. The synecdoche quickly wore down, nonetheless, and different phrases got here into view. A few of us stated that ever since that day, the day after, now we have been residing in a protracted grief or mourning or sickness or demise. “We have now been residing in a protracted demise,” I heard as soon as from a swimming teacher; I instructed her she appeared like a poet. She stated she had by no means written a poem in her life however that she cherished studying poetry, and I used to be moved every time I recalled her phrase. I might repeat it generally to myself, changing “demise” with “grief” or “sickness” and even returning to the unique marker, “funeral.”
The seek for language comforted me. However it was nonetheless early days, and shortly I started to listen to a cynicism that hadn’t been there earlier than. Mocking and self-mocking, the violation of the funeral grew to become a settled factor. It was now unusual, and as with the unusual, and as with evil, its absurdity was one thing that may very well be laughed at. I famous this to a good friend. He defined it was “the American approach” of dealing with the exhaustion from all of it. His rationalization helped, and I started to grasp that residing in a protracted funeral was relentlessly linked to a resignation that should be fought day-to-day. It wasn’t solely “the American approach.” That day diminished the globe to an elegiac mode.
I returned to that day, the day after that day, in my thoughts. Granular grey. Surprisingly scant of individuals. At midmorning I walked to my workplace on the campus the place I taught. I had canceled my courses for the day. The earlier week, after we nonetheless risked innocence, I had instructed my college students I might be in my workplace the day after that day, in the present day, and in the event that they preferred to they may come see me. It appeared lots of my colleagues did the identical: pockets of scholars shuffled out and in of places of work in my constructing. On my stroll there, I had Robert Hayden’s “A Plague of Starlings” in my head. The frigid environment, the campus garden plagued by election posters should’ve triggered it—the poem is about, because the subtitle informs us, on the campus of Fisk College, in Nashville—and I used to be stuffed with the burden and peculiar grace of that poem when my college students stopped by my workplace.
The primary to come back was already in tears. He stood on the open door and wept; he wept when he stated howdy to me, and I wept again. The second got here, her face set in shock the entire time we spoke; she wept solely as she was about to depart. The third and final have been a gaggle of 4 college students. When their chatter crammed my workplace, I felt a sudden fright deep within me; I fought it as I spoke with them, after which virtually as all of the sudden I felt a pleasure mingling with the fright. I used to be confused as to the place to position both. The scholars stayed lengthy in my workplace and ultimately left when the afternoon started to darken.
I walked dwelling, the campus now completely abandoned. I performed over in my head the phrases of elemental loss I’d heard from my college students. I used to be overwhelmed and walked in a blind, inside haze throughout the garden. Not till I used to be virtually head to head with an aged girl did I return to myself. It took a second for me to comprehend she was talking. “Will probably be all proper,” she was saying. Will probably be all proper. Will probably be all proper. I keep in mind echoing her phrases again to her and saying, “Thanks.”
Now, with solely a little bit time left till one other election day will come once more, I’ve been fascinated about that transient encounter. The girl appeared all of the sudden on the campus garden with the consoling simplicity of a starling, and with the darkish falling quick she spoke phrases that quieted my misery. The times grew into weeks and months into years. Over that point, the uncooked damage of the nation wore her phrases down in me into different phrases that ultimately wore right into a silence I used to be powerless in opposition to. Even so, a rage edged the silence, eclipsing all, like love.
Belated and transient as love, her presence has helped me to maintain religion in what her phrases meant, their promise. I’m considering of her presence extra as we close to the day once more. What disaster will befall us the day after that day? Come what might, I hope we will likely be higher ready for the longer term, in order that we are able to assent to one thing Simone Weil wrote in her pocket book on the outbreak of World Warfare II: “You would not be born at a greater interval than the current, when now we have misplaced every part.”
Native New Yorker. Travel addict. Hardcore thinker. Analyst. Pop culture fanatic. I live in Queens with my wife Linda and our dog Clemenza.