In this difficult time during the Covid-19 pandemic, I gathered a group of trusted writers and asked for their help. Knowing that my writing workshops would have to go online, we did a “practice run,” and wrote together for a few hours. The prompt that produced the piece below is tried and true: listening to Breyten Breytenbach’s poem, “Your Letter.” See that prompt here.
What I wrote:
Jose comes into the apartment wearing a mask. “You don’t have to wear that for me,” I say. “But please do whatever makes you feel comfortable.”
He takes it off, looking relieved. Seeing his face after nearly three weeks of self-quarantine (except for two stressful trips to the grocery store)—seeing that beautiful Aztec nose, his wide smile—is like a lifeline.
We’re still here, I think. We’re here in my living room, together.
On the trail below Twin Peaks, we walk single file, trying to stay six feet apart. Seeing the familiar dusting of dark hair on his caramel colored calves feels like a miracle.
We are walking on a trail we have walked on before; he is telling me a familiar story about his romantic relationship, and the details that used to fire up my defense for him, now feel like a mantra or a prayer. Sacred. His body close enough to touch. The lovely sing-song of his Spanish accent. His breath.
“Everyone is afraid,” I hear myself saying, surprising myself, because now I’m defending his fickle boyfriend.
He turns to look back at me with kindness. It’s physical, his gaze. It holds me the way a parent holds a child: lovingly, unassuming. And we are only here, in this moment, with a view of the city skyline rising bright white into a blue, blue sky. We are here. Both of us. Bathed in gratitude.