…because my job
was to stay clean and thankful and mostly imaginary, I have been stealing
what little I can:
onions. sandpaper. handfuls of skin.
the dumpster’s metal groan. hurried breath. hot knives.
–from “Quarantine”, by Franny Choi
Here at High Ground, on the edge of the contintent, we are cleaning the eaves-troughs on our house and printshop, working in the garden, hanging out laundry and bringing it in (air-dried sheets, the sweetest of smells). We are thinking of our family spread over the country and we are hoping for the best of outcomes for our fellow citizens. A pandemic carries resonance in its own name: πᾶν, pan, meaning all; δῆμος, demos, meaning people. All of us. No one is safe, though many are alone. I wish there was something I could do about that.
In the night I was at my desk, proof-reading my novella, due out in May. I don’t expect much in the way of fanfare. Book events everywhere are cancelled. A more tech-savvy cohort is making videos and so forth but I can’t see that my skills will rise to that. I will share news as it comes and no doubt John will print a keepsake to celebrate my book and its publication so even if there’s not a launch, I can send small letterpress cards to people who buy the book. More on that in the next month or so.
But anyway, in the night I was sitting at my desk, with my reading glasses on, peering at the pages on the screen, when I heard a crash. Was it in the kitchen? I turned on the light. No. Outside? I turned on the deck light. No. Nothing I could see but the ladder on the deck, ready for more eaves-trough work today.
This morning John wondered why the ladder wasn’t leaning against the railings as it had been when he went to bed. I remembered the crash and told him. We realized some animal must’ve come up on the deck and knocked the ladder over as it passed it. (The ladder had been folded up but on its side against the wooden posts.) The same animal that came onto the deck 3 nights ago and pulled out the big kale plants I keep in a planter by the sliding doors for making smoothies in the mornings? When we looked down the bank this morning, saw bark pulled from a mossy stump and a few big rocks overturned, we realized who was awake and in the neighbourhood. Who would be shadowing our days and even (it seems) our nights, ambling around outside while we sleep, helping himself to kale and a few succulent ants.