The morning breaks slowly, pale and partly cloudy. Kind of like me.

I’m sitting on my porch again, just after seven. This is where I go to center myself. To search for some light as the light starts to rise.

The sky is a watercolor gray with clouds of torn batting. It’s lighter there by the river and there’s no fog today. Except in my mind.

A crow calls. Harbinger of death. Three geese honk as they wing across the sky, heading north, the palest blush of pink stirred up by their wings .

The morning rushes forward, stalked by the caw from the crow and the pink pales as soon as it forms — soaked into the anemic dawn. Pale and persistent.

Kind of like me.

A friend tagged me in a post last night — a call to build-up-womankind kind of post. I’m supposed to search my phone for a solo pic and give a shout out to all my girlfriends. But there’s a problem. I support my womenfolk, have no doubt about that… but I have no solo pics. Just half-hearted selfies.

And I’m having trouble building up when I’m so down today. The night was unsettled. I tossed and turned. Had terrible dreams.

Even now, my mind is unsettled and tosses and turns. My thoughts, they’re dark — they’re gritty and moldy and dark.

Kind of like me.

I haven’t done my hair in weeks. Worn anything more than foundation (as sunscreen) in the same. I feel ugly and sluggish and sad.

Apparently, the feeling’s contagious. My plastic flamingos sit in clay pots on the back porch with nothing to embellish. No greenery. No flowers. Flanking emptiness. Their heads and bodies sag forward.

Kind of like me.

My youngest just came to the porch to tell me he doesn’t deserve his allowance this week. He stayed up all night. He couldn’t sleep. He’s feeling the darkness like me.

I pull him into my lap. We snuggle close beneath the soft blankets piled onto my lap while I write.

His little chin points downward, the sweetest little point on his heart shaped face. A heart shape. He is the shape of my heart. As is his brother, his sisters, his father, his aunts and uncles and grandparents and teachers and all his mama’s friends.

There’s my light. There’s my way.

I have no solo pictures because I am so much more than just me. I am a mother, a teacher, a wife, a friend. I am surrounded by love.

And with all that love — even from a social distance — I can do this hard thing.

We can do this hard thing.

We can lift up our sagging, drooping heads and project and protect and proclaim.

This world is still beautiful. We are still beautiful. We are guardians, we are embellishers. Our hearts are the pink and perfect harbingers of life. Of something worth showing off.

Pale or no, we are persistent.