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Hana Jabr

I can’t stop thinking.

I can’t stop thinking about how, for the first time in my life, I don’t mind my commute to work.

The traffic in the hallway is light every morning, though I do have to watch for the cat who thinks he’s starving. He tends to wind his way through my legs as if I need a reminder to stick to our new routine.

The spare bedroom is now my office, and I can’t stop thinking about how the bed behind me in all of my Zoom meetings is the bed I slept in when I was in high school.

At first, I tried to position my chair so my coworkers and classmates couldn’t see the polka-dotted bedspread I picked out when I was 16, but now I really don’t mind answering questions about what’s going on in the background. I can’t stop thinking about a post I saw on social media about a kid who turned his camera off and renamed himself “Reconnecting…” in a Zoom chat with his class.

I can’t stop thinking about how bad I feel for finding humor when everything feels so distant.

I hung a calendar in the spare bedroom to make it feel more office-like. It’s a horse calendar and each month is a still shot of a different breed and color of horse mid-gallop—mane and tail perpetually billowing. I can’t stop thinking about how much I want to be outside with my own horse instead of cooped up inside working, then I think about how guilty I feel because I’m privileged and I should appreciate that I have a job at all.

I can’t stop thinking about the new sounds the house makes after the earthquake in March, and how jumpy I am when someone blasting bass drives through the neighborhood.

I’m writing more poetry these days, but I can’t take credit for that. I’m in a poetry class and we just read Terrance Hayes’ American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin. I finished reading the book the same day that George Floyd was choked to death while people just stood around and watched.

I can’t stop thinking about George Floyd. And Ahmaud Arbery. And…

I can’t stop thinking about how we will never create a life-saving vaccine for the disease that killed those men.

I can’t stop thinking about how grateful I am and I then I think about how guilty I feel for feeling grateful.

When the sky is really blue, I visit my horse. When the wind catches her mane or when she gallops to the other end of the pasture, I’m grateful that she isn’t just a still shot in a calendar. And I’m grateful that she doesn’t have much to say about everything going on lately. It’s completely fine with me that she doesn’t ask me what’s on my mind. I need a break from thinking.

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