At the End, Say We

When Juan de Fuca jerks further beneath North America, and the ocean swallows itself before a roar of rock and water, say we had our share of scraped knees and punch-drunk giggles. Say we ate some popsicles, shared them with dogs and neighbors, and ran some good lemonade stands in our time. Say we got older and scrounged our pockets for change for lemonade and the power of a kid’s hopeful.  Say we each loved a tree to the best of our ability — with a hug, kiss, soft pat, climb, affirmation. Say some of us were whores for trees and we didn’t do it for the money. Say we were caterpillars in sleeping bags for the sun’s rise and danced naked once or twice for its setting. Say we noticed every phase of the moon, stubbed our toes, stumbled drunk or confused, bit our tongues, and got bad haircuts.

When Newberry caldera once again fills with lava, say we stood on the piles of pumice and obsidian before they were claimed. Say we smiled at strangers, ate watermelon and candy, and grew calluses. Say we were desperate and needy during some breakups, lost our dignity and dusted it off (yelling “5 seconds!”), and were gosh darned divas rocking the syllables of independence. Say we said thanks—a lot—and tipped our servers. Say we held some doors and walked through those held for us. Say we were lovers and fighters, and welders more than dividers. Friend, say we dined with our dead and laid them to rest, watching the candles flicker on the soft waves of their journeys. Say we risked embarrassment in other languages and were supportive when others were learning.

When hurricanes create tinder from our houses, say our hearts did not beat for our possessions. Say we learned the terrain of our homes like our bellybuttons—those mesas, mountains, rivers, desserts, canyons—or at least like our lower backs; we were aware of the land even when our eyes weren’t open. Say we made friends far more than enemies and spent some afternoons wondering what “enemy” meant. Say we lost some socks and sent sweet notes just for the heck of it. At the end, say we learned how to say sorry and breathe courage and forgiveness. Say we never stopped learning. When we go down, please tell me it’s after a lifetime of more celebration than mourning.

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