These Are the Hours


These are the hours of the heat rising and the fan whirring. The chai is still too hot to drink and Otis Redding is telling me that the loneliness won’t leave him alone. 


The city is brimming over. Simmering with something that sounds like the remnants of a prayer we can’t remember all the words to. 


The subway is full of tired expressions etched into faces that want the fever to break. Will it break? 


These men who take up so much space and talk so loudly. As if they’ve never had to consider the volume of their living. 


These are the hours when the past is sighing and the future is trembling. We have not learned, we have not learned, we have not learned. 


The hydrants are hoping to be cracked open so their trapped torrent might finally spill over. We all want to find our way back to the ocean we were taken from. 


There is no glory in this living grief. Who died today? The headlines are haunting. The walls are weeping. I didn’t know concrete could cry until I moved here. 


These are the moments that are shot down before they become hours. Buried before they have even been witnessed. 


I am walking along the same streets that I have seen in a thousand movies. My footsteps joining all the ghosts who never leave. Our stories merge into something so familiar. Maybe I am one of the ghosts, too. 


The summer is speaking of a lifetime that isn't mine. I think I might be able to trace the outline of it if I just closed my eyes and let the rhythm remember. The way we reach into the past this way. As though time is a window we can open or close or peek through.


The melody from the next block feels like a promise. A reminder that we need to plant the words so that the story can grow. In soil, in street art, in the absent breeze of anything that still carries a trace of hope. 


Sometimes I wonder which of these stories will finally break us. Which of these weights we will collapse under. Which truth will be the one that tears us in two. Or three. Or into smithereens too tiny to count. 


The heat waves rise like fire from the paving stones. Someone is selling ice cold water for a dollar. The humidity is a thick blanket that makes it hard to inhale. 


These are the days that are melting and blurring. Ending and beginning. Begging to be remembered. To know that they mattered, that their seconds were not surrendered in vain. I wonder how it is that they can speed and linger all at once.


These are the hours when the light floods everything, until the sunset reminds me that I am dying, that we are all dying, and that now is the time to live. And I listen.