It’s been nearly four years since we’ve felt such extremes. Anxiety. Stupidity. Complacency. Fear. Death. Anxiety. Complacency. Fear. Death. This should have been different. This should not have created divides between “this is really inconvenient” and “I just lost a son and husband,” between sold out shallots and sold out sympathy cards. We’re beyond fractured. There is gnawing fear of exposure but clawing fear of what has been exposed. And staying inside becomes not just sheltering in place, but also sheltering from the divide, sheltering in the only stillness.
— Donna Hoke (East Amherst, New York)
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No Heroes Here
Shelter in place, I’m told. COVID-19 is here. I button up my stiff white dress shirt and throw on a muted-color suit. I’m one of the privileged few that get to leave the house every day. I’m one of the people they don’t talk about on the news. In a footnote maybe, they mention the number of deaths. They never mention me. I am on the frontlines but don’t qualify for hero status. I’m called. I respond. I am always responding. At least I have N95 masks now. I may have been exposed. I could be next.
— Jeffrey K. Johnson (Pineville, Louisiana)
* * *
“Have a good day,” I tell my partner as I kiss her goodbye and head to work in the makeshift office in the dining room downstairs. I am grateful that it’s my day to Zoom all day where the comfortable office chair is located. Achy from weeks of staring at my computer screen, filled with my colleagues’ faces (and their pets and kids in the background on good days), I settle in and breathe a sigh of gratitude for the privilege of working alongside inspiring people, and within reach of hummingbirds and blooms that hang out on the patio.
— Carolyn Sandoval (Solana Beach, California)
* * *
Ode to Gaia
She is healing, but she needs our help. Her body has been ravaged by bushfires so furious they left her hollow. Floods of emotion swept through her outer edges, and afterwards burnt remnants of the fires washed up onto the shores. I discovered these fragile pieces left to slowly weather away, as the passers-by are now kept at a distance. I tend to the pieces as if I can mend and heal each through repair and reverie. The pieces are renewed. They awaken the senses once more. Gaia is beginning again. We are all in stages of healing.
— Chloe Cassidy (Sydney, NSW, Australia)
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.