17 March 2020
For the foreseeable future, I’m going to try to put a little bit of writing here each day. It might be lists or notes or what I did or a text message or poem or a tiny essay. Just a sort of collecting of this period I don’t know how to write in or about & don’t expect to know how to write in or about for a long long time. It’s what I think I need. A thing to do regularly, a shred of control. An attempt at memory. & to have a place to put it. I don’t expect it to be interesting to watch, but if you want to, that’s fine with me.
21 March 2020
I held my breath 35 times
Did not say hello to anyone
Walked into the gulch far enough
Not to be around
The snow is melting into loud water
Moss almost neon & leaves
Coming up from dead tree peat or loam
D isn’t here to tell me which
I asked for a few things
One answer was:
Try not to compare
Different ways of helping
Today is supposed to be Saturday
If I drive through Wyoming
It’s 819 miles to C’s birthday
I will write across them instead
Visit the farm with K
The sun will feel different there
New flowers in the darkest color
A flower can be
23 March 2020
C’s been making weekly apocalypse bread, so I try to notice every gesture of care. K bringing my contact solution to bed. My friends on the phone or over the internet. Everyone with opinions contradicting other opinions, taking apart the world. A screenshot of writers. A screenshot of us dressed up to stay home. Dance class in the bedroom. Other C’s YouTube videos. “How are you?” answered/not answered. An email, some edits, fire cider, family meal. L in pink, trying like always to save the world. J on the family thread with Bernie stats & Sonic Youth videos. D letting me cut flowers, G leaving coffee at the door. Every book ever written that I haven’t read yet. How the dead seem also to be hanging around. On my walks & while I sleep. Not to give advice exactly, but as a sort of buffer between now & what could happen. Text from S yesterday: “You are not a ghost.”
27 March 2020
I talk more to my friends who are far away because we’re used to using the phone.
When I am moving toward a stranger on the sidewalk my heart rate increases no longer because I am afraid of being touched by them but because I am afraid of breathing their air. If I am in the middle of the sidewalk and they are at a crossing, they should turn. If I am at a crossing, I turn. If they should turn and they don’t, I feel a new kind of anger. I like the game of not having to smile.
Before we go to sleep K and I talk about how well-trod adages are well-trod because they’re true, but no one really understands them until experience happens. Like being a teenager or living past 30. You can’t create a belief from what comes out of someone else’s mouth, not really.
3.3 million Americans lost their jobs last week, which is more than Idaho plus Wyoming plus Montana.
No one wants to read about hell while they’re inside of hell, but poetry is a cockroach and that’s something I believe.
Since college, the grocery store has been where I go when I feel sad or listless or unnamable. Not to shop really. I just walk up and down the aisles. Stand in front of the freezer section and decide which ice cream would be the best. I go during my lunch break or after work and never when I really need to. Buy a couple of things so no one thinks I’m stealing but not the ice cream. I am breaking myself of this habit.
Instead, I dream of empty grocery stores and the virus mutating the moment everyone has had it. I dream of touching my friends. Dancing last night with G inside a gaming exhibition at MoMA, we were solving the problem of moving from one side of the room to the other without losing contact. We weren’t important enough to stay for more than 26 minutes and we could not speak. What we made felt like water.
Every day I return to my body as many ways as I can. Try not to see the future.
“As always, I’m reading a few different books at once right now, but I’d say most importantly I’m re-reading The Passion According to G.H. by Clarice Lispector for about the sixth or seventh time. It’s a book I return to whenever I need to be jolted back into the the most core part of myself or jolted out of whatever ordinary reality is currently dishing out. Lispector’s writing, and G.H. in particular, feels like permission. Permission to think in ways outside of the conventional, permission to write as far as I can into lush strangeness.”
CL Young writes poems and essays. She holds an MFA in poetry from Colorado State University and lives in Boise, Idaho, where she runs a reading & workshop series called Sema