When flight is impossible

Flight is impossible, love, so fight it must be; every night I wrestle with the angel of god and my hips, struck, ache. When I wake my hands are curled into fists; it grows ever harder to unclench them. And who remembers to breathe anymore? The tight band that constricts our chests feels like a heart attack. I am exhausted but I find it hard to sleep deeply. When I finally drift off there are always strange dreams: in them, the bodies pile up.

Last night, for example, I dream I am hanging body-shaped one piece jumpers on a clothesline. There are hundreds; each unique; each the size of an adult person; each greyed and spotted in idiosyncratic ways. There are rows and rows of them; their feet flap in the wind. I have a special pole with a hook of some sort that allows me to reach up and pull the line down, to reach one of these bodiless forms ripping and tearing in the gusts rolling in off the sea. I pull one not so jolly jumper down and another flies up into the sky. I will never manage to count or corral these lost ones; their feet flatten endlessly to the wind.

Life these days feels like walking slowly along a ledge. Balance is paramount, but no matter what I do, a huge wave of grief is coming. For all of us.

We talk about the economics of this pandemic and the debt that governments are piling up. What too, I wonder, of the emotional expenditures so much closure, foreclosure and isolation bring, on a planetary scale, the grief and loneliness and uncertainty and loss visited upon every dwelling? The news confirms how peculiarly horrifying the days have become: front end loaders are removing bodies from a Bronx hospital, putting them into storage. Meanwhile, field hospitals pop up in parks. You walk beside me, say this is going to go on for a long time. We both wonder, will the surveillance and suspicion slacken on the other side of this crisis?

3 April 2020 from a site of isolation known as Eskikewa’kik, one of the seven districts of Mi’kma’ki, the unceded and ancestral land of the Mi’kmaq Nation.

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