For twelve days all of Spain kneeled, heads bowed, hands pressed in collective prayer, hope from the hearts of millions cascading into the borehole, hope glowing around your parents’ hollow bodies like a halo. On camera, their faces fell in shards, a mess piled at their feet, and we were broken, too.
For twelve days even atheists spoke of miracle, how bones fractured after a fall can defy science and cling to each other, redefining survival on their own terms. Air could become trapped like a butterfly in a jar, seventy-one meters below the earth, it could creep into a nose or a shock-opened mouth, could flit around a brain for as long as it would take the miners to dig the tunnel.
Maybe, just maybe, a country joined at the hands could summon an angel that would open his arms to shelter his two-year-old brother who had plunged toward the center of the earth.
For twelve days politicians stopped bickering. Soccer scores lost their gloss. Spanish salaries were enough to live on, and instead of everything else, talk turned to the conundrum knotting everyone’s brow: how a cup and a bag of cheese puffs could lie, so casually, on top of the compact mound experts predicted you were buried under.
For twelve days, those of us who were parents scolded less and toiled to keep our imaginations in check, to keep our children where they belonged, against us on this side of the television set. We vowed to forgo future trips to the countryside; paella cooks just as well in the safety of our kitchens.
For twelve long nights, we free fell through the holes in our dreams, hands pulled above our heads, crying, like children trapped in an impossibility, but only until we heard your voice: Don’t fret. Death can’t find you down here in the dark.