A QUARANTINE DUOLOGY
April 4th, 2020
Words by Rosie Accola · Illustrations by Ale Kaicedo
By the third time I saw that someone had tweeted about how Shakespeare wrote "King Lear" during a pandemic, I was already over it. Art could wait. I was busy visualizing microscopic germs lurking on every surface. Still, poetry has always been the main way that I process the world around me. My process as a poet is also hyper-communal. The energy derived from reading and performing work, combined with sharing drafts with my friends, has always been integral to my work. So I was curious about how the imperative of solitude would impact my writing. Plus, I still can't stop touching my face.
At the midpoint between sanctuary and apocalypse,
touch is discouraged.
Parking lots strip themselves of breathing bodies.
We learn how to layer.
We become hyper-aware of the inherent plurality of public spaces.
Every gesture is both gross and intimate, like witnessing a stranger cry on public transit
contorting their face as a strand of snot drips down their nose;
they are too consumed by their own anguish to notice another perceiving body or the sound of
someone shifting their weight from one foot to another.
Our spatial poetics are delicate.
We shut up briefly about the surveillance state as we are confronted with the reality
of being left with our bodies and our bodies alone;
suddenly yearning to cup our faces, thumbs whispering beneath our chins
the way lovers sometimes do.
My Heaven Is Dull
As I shelved books at my job, I could feel the end coming like I was cleaning out my locker at the end of a school year. My body/mind tried to conjure a familiar emotive reality, but we’ve never felt like this before ... as we drift unmoored through the grocery store reckoning with empty shelves.
My friends and I order excessive amounts of Korean stationery via FaceTime at one in the morning. Pen pal with me in the honeycomb cells of our rooms. Our trash cans are lined with paper plates and crusty napkins. Our nightstands are adorned with flat cans of seltzer — baubles decorating an embarrassingly pedestrian shrine to what we can’t live without: scant nuggs of weed, our sleeping cats who let us baby them clutching their soft bodies to our chests as we coo about how tiny their paws are.
Oh! There is glory to be found in refusing to show up!
Every time I go on Tinder, I feel like a dandy sending missives to a lover, hoping that they don’t catch consumption during their trip to the sea.
Each night I stand illuminated by the halcyon glow of the refrigerator, shoving carefully torn strips of American cheese into mouth as an antidote to hopelessness, or a ritual performance piece. We are living in the time of stress cheese, I’ll make a salad when we can all breathe again without surreptitiously checking our pulse.
Right now, I will make do with a silver thread tethering me to reality, feeling like I am simply
transposed onto my body, I will hug my tracing paper form.
Meanwhile, landlords balk as we critique their sole occupation of owning a building en masse. Gentle reminder: it costs $1,200 to build a guillotine.
Mostly, I miss small insignificant things that make me feel bratty as I lament about the lack: latte art, hugging my coworkers, karaoke, Moscow mules in copper mugs, feeling enveloped by a stranger the sticky elixir of their sweat and perfume as we dance, holding hands, movie theater popcorn with fake butter the same color as a highlighter. What a shame to realize that I am a wholly tactile being so dependent on the gentle pulse of change.
Rosie Accola is a poet, editor, and bookseller, based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her first full-length collection, "Referential Body,"was published with Ghost City Press in 2019. She misses mall food courts and holding hands with her friends. You can follow her on Instagram @rosieaccola
Ale Kaicedo is a visual artist and performer from Bogota, Colombia. She also experiments with clothing, video, drawing, and objects.
Her art is made with messy-abstract figures - she is obsessed with incorporating the abject, and monstrosity inside the body. The small bodies in her drawings pass through becomings, and they do not complete a full transformation. They just escape. She likes to think about them as bodies with no organs, or like gingers, weird and with no fixed positions.