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“Anti-Asian Hate Incidents Explode Climbing Past 800,” the L.A. Times said this morning. George Floyd is dead. And Breonna Taylor. And Ahmad Aubrey. And and and. 

And we have a president who does not speak their names. Makes no reference to them at all. Instead he speaks of a global pandemic with a name hatefully wrong.

Tentatively but determined to reclaim a connection to fresh air, with land, in whatever limited way is possible, I have ventured from our tiny apartment for something other than protest and the perilous hunt for bare essentials. 

The virus is one thing. The loud presence of white supremacists in my grocery store is another. 

I have ventured for this other simple essential that my fear has been denying me since the last week of May. 

I have abandoned the podcast for music. I cannot bear snippets of overheard conversations. The Infinite Unveiling rises in my ears.

I am completing my hike, descending to the head of this hilly circular trail. You are ascending. Each of us, women alone.

Our eyes meet. And instantly tear.

The rest of our faces covered by masks and hats.

Two shirtless, maskless men run by. They are filled with guile in their guyish guilessness.

This is fucked up. Your eyes speak.

We see each other without words as we approach.

My instinct to raise an eyebrow, purse my lips behind my mask, and nod yes is instantly squelched by your eyes that keep their hold on mine. I can feel your reluctance in tension with the need to connect. The threat of their free and forceful breath is not what you mean.

It is I respond. And I am embarrassed that I don’t know if your ancestors are Korean or Chinese or Vietnamese or…. I only know that you are of Asian descent. And likely American.

I understand now your tears say. I’m sorry I didn’t understand before. You reveal embarrassment of your own.

Thank you. I say with my hot wet eyes steaming the lenses of my glasses. I’m sorry you have to understand now, in this way.

“Take care.” I offer through 3 layers of cotton and it sounds like I am choking.

“You too.” You croak back. We look down and away and pass.

Banner Photo Credit: Aemcreative | Flickr

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