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My youngest chosen family member and I walk through a deserted city park. They are thirteen; we’ve lived together since they were two. “I haven’t been here before,” they say, gesturing at the tall cedars around us. “You have. You just don’t recognize the park without people.” “Have you ever seen anything like this happen before?” they ask. “This” meaning the COVID 19 pandemic. ‘What have I seen before’ is a routine inquiry of theirs. A few questions that I particularly remember them asking: Did a kid from your school ever go missing? (yes; I’ll never forget her.) Have you ever felt scared to go to a party? (fuck yes; let’s brainstorm coping skills for social anxiety.) Did you have a girlfriend in high school? (sort of; I had a secret in high school.) This question, though, about COVID 19 is the first time I tell them “no.” I’ve never seen anything like this. I have no anecdotes or experiential advice to comfort them with. Another first, the first that troubles me more, is that our conversation doesn’t veer into “what if” thinking. Speculating possibilities—strategic, fantastic or comedic—has been our go-to for years. For example, what if you could turn invisible at parties? We walked the remainder of the fern-lined path in silence. Maybe poetry can fill the gap in our conversation? Speculative poetry can voice the most horrific and redemptive “what if” thoughts. Speculative poetry isn’t short on words to describe how our realities are always shifting.View playlist
I began writing poetry in earnest around 2016 and 2017. I'd always loved reading and writing in some form, but writing poems specifically came much later. Reading these poems again now, I suspect that this is the reason the themes in the collection vary so much—I hadn't been able to process so many different events in my life until I started writing poems!
I believe it was the wonderful writer Ocean Vuong who said the act of reading a poem out loud gives it a new life, that "the air is a second page." For me, the act of writing these poems down gave not only my memories (especially the sad and angry ones), but also me, much-needed new lives. In a sense, it released me from them, and them from me.View playlist