March 29th. A light rain falls through glowing daylight, I stand in my backyard. The normal Sunday village noises – lawn mowers, kids playing – are absent. There is nothing, the disquieting stillness of a nuclear winter. I listen to a voice message from my ex. Her beautiful warbling voice sings a melancholy sailor’s song of loneliness and longing, drawing out the somber words with heartfelt intensity. I stand with my eyes closed in the shimmering silence of our shattered world, and listen. My throat tightens, a hot tear rolls down my cheek.
— Kris Fricke (Birregurra, Victoria, Australia)
* * *
On daily walks, I consider that house. One month’s collapsed fence stacked in the yard. Bent nails, weathered pickets, uneasily detached. Splintered posts guarding barren patches of lawn. From crumbling cement, dark-haired mother stares into summer’s skies. Above her mask, wrinkles chisel her eyes. Parents tethered to porches, children indoors. Empty school rooms, silent playgrounds; I look to this woman, nod, and walk on. Like others, I have covered my face. Begun to fade with the anonymous days. What is this life lived behind masks? Faces concealed, what else is obscured? Ordinary encounters taken away. Spoken silence infecting these times.
— Ronna Magy (Culver City, California)
* * *
Did you know that hope is the only positive emotion that needs something negative or uncertain in order to be activated? In 2020, the world as we knew it changed. Virus. Death. Dark clouds. Yet I notice beauty. Kindness. Love. I cherish relationships more. I do stop and smell the flowers. I do creative projects just because I want to, not because of the reward. I notice that the colors are more vivid. Is it less pollution in the environment, or in my mind? I feel socially distanced, yet emotionally connected and evolved. I dare to hope and find the silver lining.
— Andrea Szucs (New York, New York)
* * *
Everything is the same; everything is different. Both are true. Everything is the same: the sun rises, we breathe air, we love our dear ones, we linger over conversations. Everything is different: the earth warms, the air can kill, virtual is a poor substitute for a hug, face time and FaceTime are not equal. Everything is everything. We are all everything, all connected to one another in our peril and our pandemic, to one another in our hope and our possibilities. These last are the most important – hope and possibilities, turned to collective action.
— Teresa Stern (Seattle, Washington)
This series is edited by Thomas Peterson. One of the editors of Artists & Climate Change, he is also an organizer and theatre director whose work focuses on the climate crisis.