Western Sky

By Michael Canfield

You are under no obligation to enjoy your life.

You are under no order to commit to your own future. You are not condemned to be a good person,

a vegetarian or a carnivore.

You are under no obligation to learn French write your memoirs

keep a journal

be good at your job have a job

fill out you unemployment application correctly or incorrectly.

To mask, to not mask. To stand up and be tall, to be unassuming,

to drink water,

to understand dating rules under social distancing, to self-isolate.

To breathe, to not breathe,

to live, to die, to be bold, to be vibrant,

to try, to not try —

—to begin, to end, to move, to stop.

You are so not obligated to any of the many things.

The Wind blows across the soft Grasses or The soft Wind blows across the Grass or something a little like that, but you are

under no obligation to the wind or to the grass.

You are under no obligation to move down the page, back a page, or on to the next page.

You are under no obligation to look up

and, like some guileless amateur, observe the Western Sky.

Michael Canfield has published poetry in The Pedestal, and weird stories in Strange Horizons, Escape Pod, Fabula Argentea, among other places. He lives in Seattle and works in a warehouse position his employer has designated as “essential.”

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