We made it through. This is the first thing to say, because it is true and it is monumental. President Biden is in the White House safe and sound and we breathe and weep and try to take it all in. To understand what it means to feel the flutters of ecstatic joy, the rush of blessed relief, and the gut wrench of utter grief and disbelief all at once.
I, for one, am exhausted yet contented in a way I never could have predicted. Watching the majesty of the Inauguration yesterday felt like power in the way narrowly escaping the clutches of death feels like power – exhilarating but also let’s not do this again, yeah?
Let’s not let this country dissolve into such madness as it has over the last years.
In 2017 I wrote a poem titled “Regeneration” which appears in my book Luminae:
Everything will fall away.
Even the beautiful things.
This will be the beginning.
I wrote it while imagining the worst was yet to come from the administration at that time. I was right. Everything fell away. Even, and it seemed on purpose and especially, the beautiful things. Safety, health, compassion, truth, dignity, all fell away.
The nation was stripped to the bone.
We didn’t just have to see ourselves naked, we were forced to bare witness to ourselves as only skin and bone. We became skeletal. Vulnerable. We were starved intellectually, spiritually, mentally, creatively. In all the ways that mattered most, we were beaten down and threatened.
Our very existence was called into question again and again.
Yesterday we finally got the answer to that question, at least for now. American democracy is not dead, tested and tattered as it may have become.
Yesterday we rose from the ashes. We have a real chance now to reflect on how close we came to annihilation. And also ground ourselves in hope in a way we couldn’t before because we never knew how truly dire it could have been.
We pulled each other out and pulled each other through. What I like best about President Biden is his true and honest and deep compassion. What I like best about Vice President Kamala Harris is her strength and confidence and also her deep and palpable compassion.
We have leaders who know how to lead. With science, with truth, with care and with love. Love as in grit, determination, and vision for how to rise to the best in us. And they know they are there to serve us. We the people. Americans.
I am still overwhelmed by the emotions of this time. It will be a while before I stop flinching at the word “President” or dreading the daily headlines before I remember that we have integrity now, we can be proud now and not ashamed.
There is much to work through, much to heal, much to do. But we are in it together. And we made it, finally, achingly, to the third line of that poem I wrote those many years ago, from a place of deep sorrow, and deep hope:
This will be the beginning.
Photo by Alimarel