Dear Child, Listen

Listen now to the hush

of the world. Listen to how the cars

don’t whir long into the night.

Listen to how the people

in all their busyness have

stopped their noise, their

chaos, their overwhelm.

Listen, Dear Child, to the slowing

pulse of the earth beating

— no pounding — its urgent

sirens of help in our chests.

Listen, Child, to the song of

the cardinal competing only

with the sound of your

own shallow breath.

Listen, Dear Child, to how the fresh

spring breeze feels so cool against

the giant tears that are falling,

falling, falling on our cheeks.

Listen to the fog of grief

rising up into the atmosphere,

sticking to our skins like wet leaves,

like hope stickers on light poles.

Listen, Dear One, to the cries of

the world in pain, in agony, over

big and small losses, far too many to

comprehend, far too many to mourn.

Listen, Dear Child, for the joys

of the other children’s laughter

ringing out in the depths of your

active, happy imagination.

Listen. Listen. Just listen.

Listen to the silence so thick

it feels like molasses sliding

slowly down a glass Pyrex bowl.

Yes. Listen, Dear One. Listen for

the heartbeat of the world slowing down

to a much-needed and much resisted stop.

Listen, Dear Child, to the hope that is

ringing out in your sweet little ears in

between each and every little masked

breath you take. Listen, especially, for that.

— Shawn Fink