Quickening

Can the Dead write? (What) can the Undead write? What is the difference between Death and Hibernation? Between Panic and retreat? Rebirth and Entropy? Between Malice, Caprice, and Indifference?

What landed us on the doorstep of March 2021 was all these things- Malice, Caprice, Indifference. We are the Dead, we are the not yet Dead, we are those who survive, we have turned (been turned) as in myth, to tree, to stone, by the caprice, or malice, or indifference of the gods

or of men

we will cry out, as Proust said, to the passerby to recognize us for what we are, to somehow see the homeless soul in the simple object that persists and recurs season by season. I was a man, now I am an apple blossom. I was a woman, now a paving stone.

James said, like Piranesi in Susanna Clarke’s book of the same name, he went into the Labyrinth and is not the self he was. Someone used to live in that apartment on Ashby Avenue

a poet, a musician, he played a guitar, many loved him, many remember, and someone who resembles him is here, but he, the one they remember, he is long gone. Into the Labyrinth. He likely won’t return.

Oh my friends I haven’t spoken

I haven’t heard my own voice, really, for months. Something about the clay between your teeth, reverberations of the deafening quiet those first weeks a year ago driving up the Berkeley slope to the grocery store, my 40 year old Mercedes whapping like a chopper and not one solitary other car on the street, and KQED a continual narrative, increasingly terrifying, about transmission, cases rising in various places, community spread, lack of PPE, ventilators, The malicious, capricious, indifferent president saying it would go away like a miracle. I even wanted to believe him, but couldn’t muster the willful ignorance to do it. I will always remember Nancy Messonier’s press conference in late March when she said she had warned her kids that this would signifigantly disrupt their lives, and the cruise ship with hundreds infected docked at the port of Oakland after being routed away from the more prosperous and white port of San Francisco.

On those drives it took me less than 5 minutes to cross the whole town, and like Harley said, it seems like theres more crazy people because nobody walking on the sidewalk but them. The Silence outside the car pressed on the windows like Sirocco fog. It reminded me of Don Delillo’s White Noise- the airborne toxic event. A silence like that swallows the future. In the afternoon my daughter would be crying in the garden, and the playgrounds were bound like bodies- killed or hostage?- in yellow tape. That was months before the fires.

that was a year ago, almost exactly.

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