i don’t pay attention to the
world ending.
it has ended for me
many times
and began again in the morning.

—nayyirah waheed

I usually catch up to them when they are walking ahead of me. 

They do not move quickly—he and she side by side, each with walking sticks, white-haired and old-boned in spring weather.

I live near Hendricks Head, home of Southport Island’s small public beach. Year round, folks stroll loops around our roads, sometimes parking by the beach, sometimes just heading out the front door. We are walking, always returning to our starting point.

Sometimes slowly. Painfully.

I pass the friendly elder couple and we exchange smiles and greetings. I admire them: they are bent from aching, and yet they walk.

Last year at this time, I wrote of spring peepers. Their refrain is here again, sounding hope and life. We’ve done another circuit round the sun—this one unparalleled—and here we are again.

There has been so much hurt. So much anxiety and loss. 

March 20 would have been my daughter’s 32nd birthday. She is no longer here, so I marked the day on my own, walking 32 miles.

Round and round my usual circuit, love whispering in the winds, I walked.

Ever since, my left knee has twinged. Pushing 58 years, my body is not what it once was—recovery is slow, and I wonder if I’ve added a new injury to the catalog. (Time can heal; sometimes it breaks us.)

Our COVID interlude has changed us: we began here and have returned, but we are not the same. The small frogs’ strains sound different to me now: more like a song of gratitude for what remains; a chorus of praise. And my body aches more. 

Yet here I am, and here we are.

As I write, sunlight pours in, warming my back while Schubert plays quietly in the background. It’s a lovely morning, and a lovely day for a walk.

If I am lucky, I will see my stalwart friends walking the loop. 

I will feel some joy, for still, we are here.