progress

It’s only scary if you stop here. Here, where it’s all shadow and monster, unnamed creature and trails of blood to where– to nowhere?– from where– from who?

It’s only scary if you stop here, or if you go backwards.

Backwards used to be safe, used to be normal, but now you will carry the goosebumps home. It’s too late for anything different. Your skin has already swallowed them whole. Your eyelids will never be quick enough to hide the darkness in your blinks anymore.

In broad daylight, in a church, following your mama, resting in the shade of a willow tree, hovering over your newborn’s crib– everywhere– you will see the darkness flickering across like lightning, sticking to your fingers like glutinous lava. It won’t ever be normal anymore, but it doesn’t have to be scary.

It’s only scary if you stop here.

Don’t stop here.

Move closer.

Learn their names. Learn their histories. Listen to the stories.

Remember the time we marched so hard it shook them to the very edges of the earth? Remember the time we agreed to hold hands when we saw them coming? When we said, I will take water from my well and throw it on the fire creature when it comes for you. And you, you will take your garden and bury all the shadows beneath it when they come for me?

And remember how there is always someone who doesn’t want to lift a bucket or heave a shovel, and someone whose blinks are blessed enough to be slow, and someone who thinks that maybe the creatures have the right of things. And remember how that does not stop the way we shake the ground.

How, without law or truce to guide us, how, how– how we reach for each other and hold us in place on this ever-spinning planet? How we fill each other’s soup pots, and plant our seeds in someone else’s garden, and how, and how, and how we human so hard the beasts run and hide?

When you go deep enough down this path, you will meet other wild creatures who move too fast for names, or whose names have been said so much we’ve worn them down. You will see them snap the lightning with their teeth, lick the lava from their fingers. They will smile at you. Make you tea. Teach you the type of manners that matter, teach you how to put feet on your kindness, how, how, how to lift the shovel, be the shovel, be the garden, give the garden, grow, grow. Go.

When you go far enough down this path, you will find the medicine, inching its way from the core. It will teach you a cry that can be heard around the globe. It will teach you a lullaby that will prepare the next generation.

This is a long road, and you will not reach the end.

But don’t stop now.

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