A sense of discomfort streams in,
Filtered through the headlights from hundreds of cars.
The only brightness in the power-stricken streets.
In darkness, I drive on asphalt showered by flashlight,
Illuminating tree branches, trunks, debris stacked neatly at the curb.
Beyond the hewn forests sit houses,
Their state, concealed by night.
In the streets, people wander,
Some alone, most together
United by displacement.
They laugh in parking lots,
Smile for their lives.
Because if you can chuckle at disaster,
you find the strength to carry on.
For if you don’t laugh, you may weep.
Cry for the world taken from you,
Never again to return.
If you weep now, you may never stop.
Head held high, you laugh, a lilting that pierces the starless sky.
Laughing without fear of the future.
A courage for what is to come.
*Written March 5, three days after the Nashville tornadoes, and the day of the first diagnosed case of COVID-19 in Tennessee.