Writing the Distance: Emily Wall

The Covid 19 pandemic is isolating Alaskan writers. We can no longer attend workshops or public readings. The coffee bars where we met with other writers are closed. To bridge these physical gaps, 49 Writers is providing this on-line forum for Alaskans writing the distance. In today’s post, poet and professor Emily Wall looks past the negatives to find positives.

Where I’m From in a Time of Quarantine

I’m no longer from rushed mornings: pouring cereal, missing socks, packing lunches, go go.

I am no longer from driving on ice out to the university.
I am no longer from getting impatient at the grocery store when the aisle is clogged with carts. I am no longer from gulping down a muffin in my car at the stoplight by the glacier, because –

I’m no longer late for meetings. Now, I am from listening.

I am from sitting on the red sofa, sleepy child on my lap, listening to her dream about a spaceship full of snakes.

I am from learning to make homemade pretzels because my daughter’s best friend made them with her mama, and the two girls want to eat the same food.

I am from making fairy houses, from 30-second dance parties, from walking one end of the beach to the other.

I am from listening.

I am from wiping my daughter’s tears because she won’t have a 5th grade graduation.
I am from explaining, in detail, what puberty means to my 8-year-old. I am from answering

every, single, question.
I am from packing bags of food to hand out at the food pantry. I am from listening to the story

of the janitor who had to quit his job because he has asthma and is picking up the used Kleenexes of people who traveled just last week.

I am from listening.

I am from sitting by the fire with my husband, in silence, because we already know everything
that happened in each other’s days. I am from rubbing his feet, listening to the beautiful quiet.

I am from listening, to this long, sweet silence.
I am from listening to the stories of my community, to the worries of my daughters,

to the sound of rain, hitting my window. And I, am full of gratitude.

Emily Wall is a Professor of English at University of Alaska Southeast

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