Art in the time of global pandemic

Dear Reader,

This is a time for art.

That’s a statement that I believe needs to be repeated.

The is a time for art.

Because this is what art does best. It gets us through human emotion and statements and stuff. Crappy stuff. And it does it by healing what has been wounded.

It helps us become seen when we need to be seen the most.

So yes, in the middle of all this, this is the time for art.

And art, dear Readers, is what I am going to give you.

And I’ve got two I want to share. Not mine though. I’m still working on stuff.

Pandemic, a poem written by Lynn Ungar, has been making the rounds. In this Chicago Tribune opinion, states that the poem made its way through social media. Even well established poets like Rebecca Solnit gave it a thumbs up.

The poem is haunting and gentle in a way that makes you feel cradled in a cloud. It reminds us of humanity during a time some of us questions what that humanity is or what it means. It remind us that we are together despite being apart and that, in some ways is a solace.

Here is a stanza that haunts:

And when your body has become still,

reach out with your heart.

Know that we are connected

in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.

(You could hardly deny it now.)

Know that our lives

are in one another’s hands.

(Surely, that has come clear.)

Do not reach out your hands.

Reach out your heart.

Reach out your words.

Reach out all the tendrils

of compassion that move, invisibly,

where we cannot touch.

To touch, without touching. This is intimate. Close. Human.

My other piece of art in the time of global pandemic comes from friend Elisabet Velasquez. My friend is from NYC and is coming from a different angle to this pandemic. Also still human, also still haunting.

She shared her poem on her Instagram.

Mami & Papi go outside during quarantine is a poem where I see my family and I in the most. The idea that for people of a certain age, the world is finally moving at their pace. They have the space that they can move, the time that they can move and they do not feel rushed.

They feel this freedom at the time when they shouldn’t be free, when they should be terrified in their own homes. But that freedom is too delicious and who knows when it will be their time again.

Like these line early in the poem:

Have you ever seen Brooklyn when it’s free

I haven’t — I ask him to describe it to me

so that I can remember this moment when papi sounds like he’s made it somewhere

and his body doesn’t owe anyone anything.

Or the line about her mom being able to go to the post office:

quick & painless. Her back might even feel young enough for a walk in the park later.

This poem is a gut check and a wake up call. This was the rush was and this is what the social distancing is. And this is the living trauma of an epidemic.

Man, how I do love art.

Take a peek at both poems. Tell me what you think and share, share, share art.

This is a time for art.

Art saves,

-Icess

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