The Challenges of Emerging from Lockdown
September 9, 2021 10:03 AM   Subscribe

Reading this made me feel vulnerable.

Thank you for sharing it.
posted by bq at 11:21 AM on September 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Clicked because I wanted to feed my annoyance at pieces that are framed as though the pandemic is ending, because I think those pieces encourage dangerous behavior.

Stayed because I really enjoyed the poem.

I still hate the framing, but that's on me.
posted by gurple at 11:22 AM on September 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

Thank you, ellieBOA. I've sent Limón's "Instructions on Not Giving Up" (2017) [forever grateful to the primroses were over for the introduction in March 2020] to a few people, and they'll get "Preparing the Body for a Reopened World" too.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:32 AM on September 9, 2021 [5 favorites]

Re the framing: I think "emerging from lockdown" is distinct from "the pandemic is ending." I am partly emerged from lockdown because my workplace didn't give me much choice in the matter. I'm well aware the pandemic isn't over, however!

So I didn't have the same difficulty reading and appreciating the piece.
posted by humbug at 11:40 AM on September 9, 2021 [8 favorites]

Thanks for sharing this.

Iris Gambol already linked to my very favorite of Limón's poems, so I can just appreciate this new piece. I've read it through once, but will have to come back to it.
posted by the primroses were over at 1:30 PM on September 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

Wonderful piece, thank you for sharing. Ada Limón will be the new host of The Slowdown on American Public Media starting on Sept. 21, taking over from Tracy K. Smith. Both are stellar writers with many poems worth checking out.
posted by wicked_sassy at 1:41 PM on September 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

I loved this so much, it spoke deeply to me. I too have unwillingly emerged from the pandemic by returning to the office, acknowledging my privilege that I ever was able to retreat from it in the first place via remote working, and this perfectly articulated many of my feelings.

Numbers 7, 8, and 19, about pain and the body, particularly resonated with me—I didn’t realize how much pain I was living with until I could work from home and move/medicate/sleep as needed. Being back at the office has made the physical pain and discomfort come roaring back :/
posted by stellaluna at 10:41 PM on September 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

"the person I work with was asking me about virtual readings and virtual teaching. It was then that I realized how much I like to enter a room without my body."

Yes. Good to see this named.
posted by doctornemo at 11:04 AM on September 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

The framing still irks me.
Perhaps, like gurple, that's on me, here in the US. My wife works in public health, and their office is going insane trying to contact trace their way into limiting Delta expansion, while pleading with workers and managers at independent (non-chain, small) businesses to please, please get vaccinated. I'm teaching in person this semester through a mask (including one with clear plastic over the mouth, to allow some lip reading) while some of my students appear only online. In my research I'm tracking campuses switching online because COVID cases are shooting up. Maybe my campus will follow.
Meanwhile a diverse range of Americans refuse the vaccine, infections have been building, hospitalizations are growing, and the death toll keeps rising. New variants are coming in.
I'm visiting my father next week for his 90th birthday. He's not good about medical stuff and I'm calculating the odds of his being infected.

So "emerging from lockdown" as a phrase feels like a fantasy.
posted by doctornemo at 11:09 AM on September 10, 2021

That was a popular fantasy in April, when this was published. Limón acknowledges that: What I want is for the world to open again, for the grief to leave us like some storm in a dream, for us to wake up and be healed. If I’m honest, I also want a sipping shot of very good tequila.

I'm sorry people are finding the opening off-putting. I think the 'preparing the body' line significantly modifies 'emerging from lockdown,' and that lockdown* has more than one meaning in the piece. This prose poem is dated April 19, 2021; Limón and her joyful, painful, beloved body have been in a type of seclusion for a year, and their relationship has changed dramatically.
- 2. [...] But I like the way I move in an empty house. It feels more like moving around in my brain, from room to room I go on wandering. It is not like that outside of the house. Where the strangers are. As a gendered body, I move with more fear, even in the safety of my wide suburban streets. We all know women end up dead in ditches daily. [...]
- 11. There are so many rules about the body. [...] It wasn’t until the pandemic that I started taking dance classes again. Now, I dance three or four times a week. I wonder if it’s because no one can see my body. [...]
- 20. I know I will have to be in the world with my body again soon.

18 opens, "I will get my second vaccination in a few weeks." After an (imposed) period of isolation, considerable self-reflection, and increased self-knowledge, the author deliberates how, and how much, they can carry forward when re-engagement with the world begins.

[*Lockdown (1973): the confinement of prisoners to their cells for all or most of the day as a temporary security measure
Lockdown (by 2020):
a) an emergency measure or condition in which people are temporarily prevented from entering or leaving a restricted area or building (such as a school) during a threat of danger; b) a temporary condition imposed by governmental authorities (as during the outbreak of an epidemic disease) in which people are required to stay in their homes and refrain from or limit activities outside the home involving public contact (such as dining out or attending large gatherings)]
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:54 PM on September 10, 2021 [3 favorites]

*laughing in Melburnian*
posted by etchogon at 6:59 PM on September 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

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