On the Eve of Inauguration

On the Eve of Inauguration

So what are you doing this Friday?
asked my Armenian journalist friend
who says he’s on sabbatical. I thought
for a long moment and went blank, then
I said something mundane like, oh I’ll be
at work, where else would I be? forgetting
that Friday would be the first day
of what will likely be a dark new era
for all my brown and black and queer
and Muslim brothers, sisters, and inter-mixers.
Are you going to watch the inauguration
on TV? he asks. Hell no, I say, trying to wake up
to the reality and weight of this small talk.
An inauguration:
“The formal admission of someone to office.”
An inauguration:
“The beginning of a system, policy, or period.”
An inauguration:
“A ceremony to mark a new beginning.”
A few minutes later, he is chatting in Arabic
with his Syrian wife, a fellow lover
of college basketball and international film,
and I can’t help but feel the stares
of two guys in red trucker caps sitting behind us.
Maybe you’d like to get dinner sometime
with us and discuss Middle East politics?
he jokes. We laugh. And I think to myself:
I barely know you both but I know enough
to inaugurate a force field around you.

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