Writing in a Time of Peril: May 22, 2020

The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard is reporting 1.42 million US cases, and 85,974 deaths as of 10:30 am on Friday, May 15, 2020. – From Johns Hopkins daily update.

The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard reported 1.59 million US cases and 95,276 deaths as of 12:30pm on Friday, May 22, 2020.– From Johns Hopkins daily update.

“Art invites us to know beauty and to solicit it, summon it, from even the most tragic of circumstances.” ― Toni Morrison

In the middle of a double pandemic, amidst the cacophonous drumbeat of rising hate and division and Covid-19’s raging wildfires, wild rabbits lay sunning beneath ornamental pear trees. While I chronicle, immigrant children are being deported in the middle of the night without protection or representation into more certain danger, the sun shines in sparkling–clear air, and cottony clouds make giant rabbits and dragons in the sky. As I sort through the strangling, drowning, skin, and hair on fire–feelings of anger, sadness, fear, and hopefulness, honey bees and hummingbirds visit each bridal veil and morning glory bloom in my back garden. While I struggle to make use of my feelings, how to make them of use, save my life, the lives of those I love, rather than ineffectual ranting or going silent or still or all of those, Charlie Hayden’s Beyond the Missouri Sky plays on Spotify. As I struggle to lead a writing life, I am relatively privileged, resourced, and safe; yet, I am assaulted daily by the incompetent–double-bind–death assuring responses to Covid–19 by our current leader and his government. I awaken to the voices of my mother and father, aunts and uncles, blood kin and named kin, all gone before me and not gone, insisting that I remember what they have taught my grandmothers and grandfathers and their grandmothers and grandfathers. They insist on action and service to ensure the protection of all life as bright–sparkling–peach sunlight rises over the garden wall. I am afraid, angry, humbled, and in constant mourning as the Delta breeze carries the scents of night-blooming jasmine and the sounds of morning birds call filled with the healing treasures of the day.

I receive the Covid–19 case and death count from Johns Hopkins each morning. I play the music that allows me to sink down onto my knees in grief and lifts me again. I wonder, what ethnic, cultural and generational rituals and music allows anger, fear, sadness, along with, promise’s ambitions and joy’s wells of tears, to tell the victory stories of our beloved departed, and celebrates the precious lives of those of us left behind?

Spotify PlayList: Beyond the Missouri Sky 


I go down my to-do list of self-care: meditate, eat well, rest well, get exercise, connect, connect, connect, stay home–except for the pharmacy & the grocery & then only with mask and gloves & when there are very few people about. Watch less TV, but stay informed. Laugh a lot. I channel fear, grief, and rage into expression, action, and art.

I continue to chronicle these times.


© Andrea Canaan, MSW, MFA


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