Spring in Miami is typically lush, the streets littered with fallen blooms from the multicolored flamboyan trees and rotting fruit carcasses leftover from mid-morning animal feasts. This week marks mid-May, and I’m writing to you from my kitchen table, nearly-ripe mangoes swaying in the breeze on the tree just outside my window. The natural world is virtually the same as it always is today: cycling on and on unless otherwise disturbed.
But, the world within us is not cycling the same as it always does. I’m sure you feel this like I do, the day-to-day pulling of teeth, our feet quick-sanded—no matter what we do to drive ourselves forth, our world remains stagnant. We sit here, fixed in the strange space-time of the COVID-19 pandemic, unsure of what will finally break this sequence. Unsure of what lies just mere steps ahead.
I’m not going to write to you and hypothesize a panacea for this uncertainty. I won’t even try to speculate about the future, the state of the world, of it “opening back up,” or the metaphorical implications that statement might hold. Rather, I would like to simply acknowledge the fear we are all experiencing right now. The grief, the dread, the eternal sundown only ever disrupted by temporary blips of what it meant to be alive prior to now. Folks have lost their homes, their jobs, their lives. There is no ignoring this, the worsening embedded in our day-to-day.
I have nightmares of the images of death we’ve been bombarded with since March. I can feel the miasma of despair weighing on everything I do. In all of the interactions I have, there it is. But, like many others, and as Myliyah Hanna writes, I’ve had to keep going. I’ve had to keep turning, loving, living, working. And what that means in the context of the world within us, I’m not quite sure. Maybe it just means that continuing on is a possibility, even if it’s only a mechanism we’ve adopted to stave off total hopelessness. Simply being is a possibility, even if it hurts.
I write this letter to welcome you to Issue 8 of Sinking City. The writers and artists who have shared their work with us have continued this phenomenon of being. Their work, most of it submitted prior to the pandemic, glimmers with possibility in the face of our current deterioration. I hope it will guide you away from the dark space we are currently inhabitants of, even if temporarily. I hope it can speak to you as it does to me, in a close whisper: we are all still turning, still writing, still loving. Even if we aren’t cycling. Even if we aren’t moving.
— Maeve Holler, Managing Editor 2019 – 2020
I’m thinking about the smell of jasmine that comes alive at night, right outside the door of my house and which resides near the big tree that seems to have grown with me my whole life. I’ve made a nest of habits during this time of pandemic: I’ve sung with the first blue jay I’ve ever spotted before in Miami; I’ve become closer, more vulnerable near my friends, family.
How lucky am I that I get to be near them, in all senses of the word.
I’m even more fortunate of being able to become a part of Sinking City in the midst of the pandemic, to introduce Issue 8 along with Maeve. Of being able to witness, read, indulge in beautiful pieces of work that resist uncertain, chaotic energy. That hold time back. Or, as Clair Dunlap writes, put forth a “wild act of self preservation,” where when we “shut our eyes there is only the color of the mountain at a distance.”
I think about the concept of distance during these times. I think about how lucky we are to have this issue out in the world, one which asks that we join in in every work’s act of meditations, reflection, and hopefulness which are ingrained within their bodies, ones we’ve been honored enough to engage with, and carry along with us, as close as we can.
Thank you all so much.
— Clayre Benzadón, Managing Editor 2020 – 2021