(For Michael Curran)
“Why don’t you just spray them with something?” Sarah proffers with rising intonation as I scratch dandelions from the front yard with the spade.
“I just don’t like the notion of poisoning the yard. There’s enough poisoning happening in this world already,” I return. “Anyway, they’ll be gone just the same.”
“Not from the backyard,” she says.
“Well I can do the backyard too, but the HOA don’t go back there, now do they?”
I’m of the mind the world needs more of the kind of care that takes time. That and fewer toxins, so I keep digging out front and leave the backyard alone. Maybe one day, they’ll understand.
Glass breaks, alarms sound, but it is not our glass, and they are not our alarms. It‘s near, but not upon us. Our windows tightly shut and boarded up despite the heat and lack of power, we huddle in the bedroom with arrows nocked and Kai lying on our feet, the silent, vigilant protector. Sarah turned into a good shot. I’m proud of her, and this dog is part of why we’re still alive. Suburbia dies around us in screams, blood, and that virus that makes people’s insides come out – literally and metaphorically. Guess most of them didn’t realize the monster was always in there. Maybe they would have been more careful if they did.
The evening air fills with white fluff as the children blow those round puffs all over the yard. Not our children. We never had any, but Brian and Serena’s kids laugh and shout and chase the seed, elusive of grasp, riding the wind as it changes. Sarah washes dandelion greens she’s gathered in rainwater before she plates them, and Serena picks the few Indian Strawberries that still dot our backyards and the backyards of the neighbors we lost. Brian cleans the rabbits and one squirrel I shot while we reminisce about barbeque sauces we can’t make anymore and football season and the mundane 9-5. We wish for the former. We don’t miss the latter. Maybe there’s hope.
“Hello, Queen City, if you’re out there and can hear my voice, congratulations. You didn’t die. I know that times are hard, and as many perished in the aftermath as did in the plague. But you are alive, and the air has cleared. With these our last batteries in this megaphone, we invite you to join us. You will work hard. Yes, there will be hungry days, but together, we can survive a little longer. Pool your resources with ours. We will share with you, and you can share with us. We have bows and knives and other tools needed to make our way. The oaks will drop acorns in a couple months, and we know how to prepare them. In the last days of this terrible summer, the strawberries may not be so sweet, but if you can hear our voices, we invite you to join us anyway. Don’t be afraid, and come on over. We’ve got dandelions.”