When the City of Love Lost its Light

Art by Patrick Driscoll

By Erica Gilman

When’s the last time you went out on a Friday night with some friends?
When’s the last time you grabbed a cup of coffee with someone you loved?
When’s the last time you flew somewhere on vacation?
When’s the last time you packed up your bag to go to school?
When’s the last time you did anything normal,
with no thought of fear or question whether you would
be sleeping in your bed that night
or sharing someone else’s,
or still breathing that night?

No one goes out with their boyfriend
or girlfriend
or parents
or best friend
wondering what Heaven is like.
Heaven must be where everyone’s faults
and the universe’s truths are etched into the Pearly Gates.
So everyone
and I do mean
without a doubt,
knows they were
dead wrong.

Some people say that
is in the clouds,
big, fluffy, cumulous clouds.
They would be filled
with the tears of lovers alone,
with the sweat of the boys
we send into unknown lands
to become murders
for the purpose of a political agenda.
The clouds will leave drops
on the soles of our bloody feet
that will hold inside
the good days of our lives
like miniature snow globes,
laying on the shelf
dusty with forgotten appreciation.

The Friday that the city of love
had its lights taken
had its breath stolen
was the day that the world lit up.
Everyone sat down
staring at a digital screen
looking at someone reminding them
the importance of breathing.
To really take in the air
to worship the oxygen in our lungs
to praise the days we took for granted.
We looked to all those we have known,
sent a kiss their way.
We played a video behind our eyes
of every sun glare,
of every birthday cake slice,
of every scream echoed into
midnight skies full of stars.

For every breath that was cut short,
that slid out of numb lips,
whisperings of love and grace
and appreciation for every breath before,
there was a breath inhaled swiftly
consuming forgotten sidewalks,
of pansies sitting alone in a meadow,
of dusty memories long forgotten,
and a shaky exhalation of sorrow
for everything we have lost,
both together and alone.

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