The sadness in the depths and the fury that burns above are not incompatible with hope, because we are complex creatures, because hope is not optimism that everything will be fine regardless. Hope offers us clarity that, amid the uncertainty ahead, there will be conflicts worth joining and the possibility of winning some of them. And one of the things most dangerous to this hope is the lapse into believing that everything was fine before disaster struck, and that all we need to do is return to things as they were. Ordinary life before the pandemic was already a catastrophe of desperation and exclusion for too many human beings, an environmental and climate catastrophe, an obscenity of inequality. It is too soon to know what will emerge from this emergency, but not too soon to start looking for chances to help decide it.
Rebecca Solnit, April 7, 2020
Blood gushing from her shin.
Just standing there. Shopping bags on the ground.
It was a dog.
Call the ambulance. Don’t take the facemask off. Don’t touch.
Skin dangling. Sweatpants over the knee.
She walks so calmly. Asks what should I do.
Help. Keep the 6 feet. Stay by the orange cone. Keep the mask on.
Layers of tissue. Pulsing.
Can you hear me with the mask on?
Is she smiling back?
Stifle the cough
Yelling under the blue surgical mask:
No estoy loco, no estoy loco
Pull-ups on the scaffolding
Sweat dripping from the thick black face cover.
Takes a drag
Puts the bandana back over her lips.
I forgot my mask today.
LA PALABRA Y EL OÍDO, CON EL CORAZÓN, TIENEN MUCHOS CAMINOS, MUCHOS MODOS, MUCHOS CALENDARIOS Y MUCHAS GEOGRAFÍAS PARA ENCONTRARSE. Y ESTA LUCHA POR LA VIDA PUEDE SER UNO DE ELLOS. ES TODO.
DESDE LAS MONTAÑAS DEL SURESTE MEXICANO.
Por el Comité Clandestino Revolucionario Indígena-Comandancia General del Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional.
Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés.
México, 16 de marzo del 2020.
Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different.
It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.
We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world.
And ready to fight for it.
Arundhati Roy, April 3, 2020
Sit on the bench. But we’re not supposed to. Wrap a bandage.
Where’s the dog?
There’s the police. No, it’s school safety. What school?
Ambulance coming. Firetruck.
I can’t go to the hospital.
You have to. It’s to the bone.
The white bandage over the red stained sock.
The grey long hair tangled with the mask straps, dangling
Rush back. Took too long.
Elbow open the door.
Shoes, jacket, keys, bags out.
The order of things.
I recognized her by the grey hair
The feet slowly shuffling up 39th Avenue
The package with coupons
You were bit by the dog the other day.
Were you there?
They let it loose. Unleashed.
It’s just me.
The neighbors don’t like to talk. And even less now.
I have to wash this coat, it smells of cats.
Maybe that’s why.
It’s still there. The hole. Too big for stitches.
The hospital bills.
My name is E.
We’ve been living the politics of breath—who gets held down and strangled by police and who does not; who has to fear that and who does not; who gets access to oxygen, respirators, ventilators, and who does not; who are told to stay home; who are required to be exposed; who are trapped in crowded institutions, who can self-isolate; who are provided protection and who are not; who can get tested and who cannot. People’s oxygen meters sit next to their toothbrushes. At this extraordinary moment, the question of what lives are expendable is worked out in the administration of airways. Carried on the breath.
Mary Louise Pratt, June 8, 2020
one hundred thousand
gentle fierce quiet tireless genuine sarcastic avid sweaty indomitable
freed from life in prison
could fix almost anything
corresponded through handwritten notes
always wanted to be near the ocean
“An Incalculable Loss”, The New York Times,
May 27, 2020.