Chicago, Dressed in Gray
Television on mute, headlines scroll: U. of I. students hold vigil for shooting victims while police seek suspects. Our couch is dark gray, blended with bristly, black-and-white dog hairs and heather gray cat hairs. If I walk barefoot on the faux wooden floor, I could easily be stabbed along the soles of my feet, tiny hairs stuck in either heel. I am vulnerable when my wife leaves for work. At times, she is a blurry presence, one that kisses me good morning after a night shift, before the sun enters our room, my eyelids squeezed shut. I smell her scrubs, the sweat that pours from twelve hours of emergency patients. She once mentioned a seventeen-year old kid; bullets ripped apart his dark skin. There were other scars: healed and thick, pink reminders of resistance.
Outside our windows is the Second City. Autumnal equinox recently passed. Instead of vibrant tree leaves, the courtyard is a muted palette. The city is in a state of in-between: between seasons, between shootings, between warmth and chill, between feeling alive and dead. Today, there is scenery without sound; there are no firetrucks wailing from Chicago Fire Station 18. Playful winds twirl fallen leaves as silver spoons stir morning coffee. Cabbage white butterflies silently flap their wings between gray skies and sidewalks. I wonder if they ever land on dead bodies, if they mistake red pools for water. We are delicate with butterflies. We point our index fingers horizontally into the air and hope all six legs land on us.
If only we were that delicate with trigger fingers.