For months I’ve been obsessed about one thing: yes, you know what it is. Some fellow writers have successfully immersed themselves, creating lyrics and phrases deliberately avoiding references to virus or pandemic or physical isolating or face coverings. Maybe it’s because I’m an industrial hygienist, my work saturated with the novel coronavirus, making it difficult to escape. Maybe it’s because – whether we like it or not – this expertise some of us has makes us uber-aware of what we should be doing, and fret about what we haven’t.
During moments outside of work, COVID-19 spilled over as I read the news – even though I knew better – talked with our daughter infected by it while living thousands of miles away, and mourned physical isolation from my elderly mother. (Last night I dreamt I was a Lyft rider, frightened as I realized I was without face covering or hand sanitizer.) Because of all this, for much of the past 3 months my personal and work writing were awash with COVID-19. Only in the past two weeks have I finally moved to writing a story that has absolutely nothing to do with this infectious illness.
During this spell I wrote a piece called Mourning. You may remember it. Although I often mean to, I have submitted to very few magazines and no anthologies. This call for submissions for poetry and art from around the world addressing COVID-19 – Plague 2020 – felt different. I am touched to have Mourning included in this anthology, compiled, edited and released this week by Mahmaz Badihian. Earlier today I looked through the book: art and poetry from artists and writers throughout the world. Shamisiyat from Nigeria, Joshua from Philippines, Alam from Italy, Mehedi from Bangladesh, Asma from Pakistan, Adrian from Peru, and hundreds of others, including me from West Linn, USA. Over 2000 submissions trimmed to 100 poets and 120 artists.
We are in this together. Experiencing worries, fears, illness, death as we humans do – separated by oceans, economies, privilege and wealth. I cry as I thumb through the electronic pages. Cry for the beauty of the shared human experience. Cry for those who come from lives with no excess. Cry for the sadness, love and loss, no matter who we are.
I encourage you to order a copy of Plague 2020. Profits go to UNICEF to support food for children.