Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2022  Vol. 21  No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
 print preview

Some Things Are Not Hypothetical

Like, for instance, cattails. Or my necklace
strung with silver cattails. Or N95 masks.
Or the dying we will all most certainly,
unavoidably, someday do. I like
the concreteness of concrete. I like
the absolute thereness of the Gravitron.
I appreciate how, when I drive past
a highway field where a skunk recently
sprayed, suddenly my entire car
is skunk. I like the parts of the world
you can count on. So many mornings
I have trouble getting out of bed—
my mind on calls that could
turn sour, my thumb quick-flicking
through the day’s bad-but-might-
get-worse news. I do better when
I spring up with my alarm—
the shower is not hypothetical.
The plastic razor. The coconut shampoo.
Hypothetical is if I slip. Hypothetical
is if this mole looks different. Hypothetical
is what the day holds once I drop
the kids at school, once I pull back
onto the highway. The very quiet student
and his backpack. The cop car followed
by speeding ambulance. It’s the long, trembling
weekend after the biopsy. A loud bang.
A rustling. Hypothetical is what happens
after I walk into my classroom wearing
an N95 and my necklace of cattails,
each frozen in the illusion of bending,
cast forever in the moment
before the moment that follows.  

return to top