It is four of us and a dog
in one house with a porch
facing west and as much
of the world as will fit
through two copper wires buried
in a hill that is wringing out
five days of rain that ripple down
the storm drain into the creek
that winds toward the whistle
and rumble of an upriver train
and a single swift
against the sunset.
— Michael Terry (Columbia, Missouri)
* * *
A gibbous moon rose, we slept through Wuhan, another SARS thing, it’ll blow over, the south-east Australian autumn, relief from the broiling summer we’ve survived, the pain in our chests, pushing out against our ribs to envelop the billion sentient mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, cremated in fire storms even hell trembled at; now the unemployed queue, one million, two million, hungry like the land is thirsty; I’ve given instructions: no funeral, burn me to ash, let the wind carry me with the cells of the billion to the sea, mountains, desert, let me go home at last.
— Barbara Curzon-Siggers (Clunes, Victoria, Australia)
* * *
A step ahead
It is the same every day. Wash your hands. No, you touched the sink handle. Wash your hands again. My brother struggles with OCD, and he also has Duchenne muscular dystrophy. He is in a wheelchair and can’t move his hands, so we serve as his hands. Disinfect the package. Did you disinfect it with the wipes? I didn’t see you do it, you have to do it again. And again. And again. We are on full lockdown. We stay one step ahead of the news. Spray it down with Lysol. We can’t take any chances.
— Gabriella Brandom (Newport Beach, California)
* * *
I wonder how we got here. To the place where ordinary things frighten. A doorknob, the handle on the mailbox, the faucet, our own hands.
When our daughter learned to walk, ordinary things frightened us too. The corner of the coffee table, the brick fireplace, the stairs. It took six months for her to steady and for us to take a breath. Once she swallowed a small piece of plastic. A trip to the ER. A kind, older doctor who blew bubbles to calm our fears. Does that kind doctor have ordinary things: a mask, gloves, time to calm fears?
— Brittany Adams (Huntington Beach, California)
* * *
We came to create an artist-residency program in the half-abandoned, mountain village of Fontecchio. Last month: Rome, no lines at the Vatican Museum, the Auditorium Parco della Musica, a dentist appointment. Three weeks ago: a winding drive for blues at a rural restaurant, to kiss both cheeks of everyone is good manners. The week after: a small dinner party where we sip rum, tap shoes, joke about The Decameron. Last week: to see friends or hike trails solo is a violation of the order. This week, restiamo a casa: he teaches me Tango, I remove wallpaper in long strips.
— Allison DeLauer (Fontecchio, L’Aquila, Abruzzo, Italia)
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.