The Beauty of Right Now

by Elizabeth Thatcher

I grew up in a town decorated with honeysuckle and sunflowers.
I was not born there, nor did I move there –
I woke up one morning and the town came to me.
The ground was paved with cobblestones, and
majestic oak trees lined the main road
(the road the travellers would walk
with their dogs and checkered hats).
The streets boasted an array of pastel houses –
name a colour and you would find it there.
Houses sporting vibrant gardens and shiny white picket fences,
bursting with families of five who hadn’t a trouble in the world.
If you looked up, you would see birds dancing in the sky with
smiles on their faces and clouds that told you to have a nice day,
and to treat people with kindness.
When the sun rested, the sky was dotted with fireflies,
the town populated by families huddled round campfires singing about
living forever and the beauty of right now.
I wondered when they slept, and I wondered
if they ever needed to.
I visited my hometown recently and the birds that smiled
have since died, replaced by successors who just look worried.
The crippling drought last summer reduced the oak trees to sickness;
the honeysuckle and sunflowers are now wilted and shrivelled.
The white picket fences are no longer white, but frayed and
abused by the children from the houses who grew up too fast.
Campfires are a thing of the past, ever since that
night a couple of Julys ago where half the town
burned to a crisp.
Instead, everyone sleeps. They
live in their dream-worlds now, and
I like to imagine they’re dreaming of
cobblestones and sunflowers.
I gaze up to the sky in vain hope –
the clouds are grey and it begins to rain.
I cannot tell if my eyes are filled with
rainwater or tears.