Ghost Town Waking
My parents tell me they smuggled me in.
Like it’s a joke.
Like thousands haven’t died.
But there’s no border patrol waiting for us. No inspection team. No need to hide in the trunk.
Fleeing from ghost town to ghost town.
It wasn’t until my walk last night after the storm, listening to Mitski – deep bass and foggy sorrow-voice – that I remembered the point of being alive. Heard frogs sing from the creek. Watched a girl dance under a streetlamp, not a care in the world. Saw a shooting star.
So shocked I forgot to make a wish.
— Jivani Rodriguez (Fairfield, Iowa)
* * *
The Leek of the Apocalypse
Same store as before.
The gloves don’t use cash best not smile
Where, now what –
Her fridge is so full (a first – who’s it for?)
Walks on with false purpose. The Frozens. New Land.
Butternut squash Paper Bag
Waits. Hears the “do it.”
Grabs the bag on the bottom
But can’t seem to leave yet.
“Come closer” it calls.
(Haven’t tried you for a while.)
(Gassy, that’s true.)
I’ll do it.
It eases inside (a smile of sorts?)
Pays through plastic with plastic and she and her leek walk it home.
— Kristina Watt (Ottawa, Ontario)
* * *
Parties Amid Pandemonium
My cap and gown sit in vacuum-sealed plastic bags, purchased two weeks before quarantine. Funny, the day I muster the courage to break my shut-in streak, we’re told to stay indoors. Playing Sims 4 until 2 AM and listlessly thumbing through library books isn’t new to me. The only difference is that my anxiety has infected this house. The street. The city. Tourists are immune to it, popping bottles and drowning in their youth on Clearwater Beach, while crematoriums across the pond fire up. If my grandmother were alive, I’d pray for her.
— Stephanie Stott (Largo, Florida)
* * *
Nova Scotia winds wildly shake the new house where I’m self-isolating. I wonder when or if my husband can get here from 4,000 kilometers away. Six days seeing no one. Alone here in the unfamiliar. The wind, the dead roses, the blue jays, the crows, the seagulls, and the old gardens in the vast yard call me out. Old stone birdbath statues watch me as I walk by. It is not the old world. The landscape is new, the fears and tears eclipsed by good deeds. We can do this if we live, I think.
— Mary Woodbury (Beaver Bank, Nova Scotia)
This series is edited by Thomas Peterson. One of the editors of Artists & Climate Change, he is also a theatre director and researcher whose work focuses on the climate crisis.