In the Aftermath of All Our Years of Living

Photograph by Jose Padua
In January, 1967, when
I wrote 67 instead of 66 for
the first time that year
at the top of a sheet of paper
in fourth grade,
the year 2000 seemed
like science fiction to me.
We were still in the middle
of the cold war; we had
a fallout shelter in the basement
of our church next door,
and we believed that at any moment,
depending on the whims
of men sitting behind fancy desks
in beautiful dark rooms,
bombs could start falling
as steady as cold rain.
If we ever make it through this century,
I thought, the next one will be
an age of wonders—men and women
flying through the air on jet packs,
riding rocketships to the moon,
and travelling even farther out
toward unknown space.
Now that we’re living in
that next century
I still walk on my feet,
move through the cold with
my hands in my pockets,
and lack plans
for setting foot on the moon
or flying through distant space.
And though bombs never fell on me,
they fall on other people every day,
following them like hungry animals,
and the rest of us put our feet up
when we rest, some of us
ready to run at any moment,
all of us, in different ways,
so lucky to be alive.

-Jose Padua

Photograph taken in Alligator, North Carolina by Jose Padua


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