Gasp and rattle and wheeze and whisper and tired and restless and breathless and breathing and holding and held and losing and lost and stumble and stutter and longing and fear and list and sentence and gather and group and wait and silence and gap and measure.
(and if I can hold on to this sentence long enough, create an unending form, the form might ward off these ordinary and brutal truncations)
Pause . Interruption . Delay .
pause : interruption : delay
It is still too soon—but will there be time—to map pandemic forms—but will it matter—to say something about how we held our breath—our breath was held for us—and what had been a rallying cry—/ can’t breathe—now and now and now and now named a mass disabling event, the speeding up of slow violence, the unend
repetition & interruption (we regret to announce)
repetition & truncation (gone too soon)
repetition & persistence (never be forgotten)
(a disease that steals memory—we forget that we have forgotten)
It is still too early//for whom//to map the forms through which we live the pandemic//too early to name how elegy and dirge have been strained//perhaps exhausted//too early to say how pole repeats into chant//but never formula//too early to tabulate the libations that accumulate with each new ancestor//too early//for whom//to find the distance to describe and map
we are//delayed//even now//catching up to news of yet another loss and another loss and another loss//and one starts emails cautiously//hoping they do not intrude on grief, knowing they do//
form can be a container to manage emotion, so we remain bound to forms, strict about them, even dogmatic, insisting that the correct can correct, that what is broken about us can be healed by the right punctuation mark, and that a sentence has a noun and a verb, that a sentence does something, or should, and so we seek the safety of hypotaxis, as though truncation and interruption will obey the rules of grammar
Perhaps fills my prose.
Perhaps: used to show that something is possible or that you are not certain about something.
Perhaps fills my prose as possibility and uncertainty. We live in perhaps times. Unsure of what is possible. Sure there is possibility. We tug at both sides, try to braid them into something that will hold. Perhaps starts too many of my forms.
Repetition can hold something. Off. Hold something. Hold space. Hold a moment. Hold.
Perhaps can hold.
I want its invitation. Its hesitation as invitation. Its tentativeness as invitation. Its leap as invitation. Its repetition as invitation.
In this pandemic that we write from and into, I track the mechanics of how to register what still unfolds, though I cannot see its form, and I do not speak graphs and measures.
And who is measuring the grief. And who is measuring the loss. And who is measuring the space that once felt different. And who is measuring what cannot be measured.
(It is not silence. Loss fills.)
I have been thinking about how to write from and with and into and through this pandemic. Pandemics compound. Dionne Brand teaches me this.
I have been thinking about the place the seam shows. Roland Barthes. The text where the seams show. And how frightened we are of those seams. Not all of us. Perhaps all of us. As though to show the seams would reveal too much. (Even though I am still not confessional. But we are betrayed by commas.)
I have been thinking about the sentences that follow sentences, the words that follow words, how to stay with sound and rhythm, and how to cut and surprise, how to be interrupted by this—look there—and this—look here—and the frequency of interruption. And how to think distraction as a practice of being in relation. And what the occasional and the unfinished might speak. The unend. Not the unend that promises more.
We live with brutal truncations. Which is not to say something does not persist. A smell lingers. A smile. Memory’s breath.
And it is not that parataxis is an answer or the answer. Only, I am trying to find the form of distraction as relation. Of what it feels like to reach and touch. Or reach out.
(I was once obsessed with the idea of pseudopodia: “Pseudopodia are temporary projections of the cytoplasm of a cell. Pseudopodia are used for locomotion and feeding in amoeba and white blood cells. The activation of the polymerization of the actin filaments forces the membrane to extend and form pseudopodia.”)
I remain obsessed with how use can be made of different parts, of what can be turned to use. Of what is useful.
Fragments, yes. But also this and that, detritus.
And, still, I do not think that is all, or should be, because there is also the desire to stay within the shape and length of something that will leave a reader breathless and gasping and wanting more, which is to say there is something like appetite, though I’m tempted to write desire, for a kind of form that might prolong an encounter, and that might flavor that encounter with something that lingers beyond what that or any encounter can hold.
Stay. There is stay.
And in truncated and truncating times, each encounter is linger and prolong, riven with pleasure and delight and fear and whether this will be the last time or the only time that this is possible, and whether a lockdown will interrupt possibility, and whether our digital unfluencies have denuded our other socialities, and whether this time will be the last time, and whether this sentence will be the last sentence, and whether between this breath and that breath there will be a pause that turns into truncation.
And, perhaps, this is a long way to say that I am not yet sure how the map of pandemic forms will unfold, if the persistence of that additive conjunction—and—can hold what I want it to, which is a hope that something continues. I continue to form in the perhaps and the maybe.