The Pandemic body

There is an uneasy feeling in the air right now. Things are starting to open up and even if they haven’t opened up, people are going out into the world, some of them wearing masks, some of them not, some of them practicing distancing, some of them not. This sense of uneasiness is felt by us in our bodies. Everything we feel, we feel in our bodies.

Today, I would like to invite you to notice whatever feelings you may be having, maybe feelings of uneasiness, maybe sadness, maybe anger, maybe loneliness, maybe fear, maybe happiness or contentment about other things going on in your life, maybe relief that things are seeming to go back to more of a normal state. You could be having more than one feeling right now. That’s okay too. We are complex, right? Sometimes we can even feel a few different contradictory things at once.

In last week’s post, I asked us to focus in on how we might be trying to escape. This week I want to ask us to focus in on staying present in our bodies.

Our bodies are readjusting in many ways to physically being away from others. Some of those readjustments are not always good. Some of us have people we live with. Others live alone. We may be missing the in-person company of others or We may be annoyed with the person or people we are with day after day. I am going to ask you to do two exercises today, both involving noticing your body and both involving writing.

First, I want to invite you to give yourself a hug, wrap each arm across your body and around you to notice how your body feels being embraced by you. Stay this way for at least a minute, maybe two or three, maybe even longer. Close your eyes if you want. Actively feel this as an embrace, as a hug. You can know they are your arms or you can imagine they are someone else’s. Feel your hands on your opposite arms. Notice the temperature of your hands. Notice your breath if you stay as you stay hugging yourself. When you release, give yourself a last little squeeze.

Write 1:

Now write about the arms around you. Just begin. If you don’t know where or how to begin, you can start with one of these two phrases: These arms wrapped around me... OR start with: I hug myself…

Just write from there. Whatever comes to you. It can be a poem or a journal entry, just stream of consciousness, however it comes out, just write. Take about 10 minutes to write. You can set the timer on your phone if you wish.

Write 2:

The second exercise, I saw a poet in Arkansas hold her hand up like this on a video after reading a poem. She had seen another poet do it and had held up her hand to that poet. So, basically, I don’t know who started it, but I like the idea and so I’m going to do it here. In the picture below, I am holding up my hand. I invite you to place your hand up to my hand. When you do that, have the palm of other hand touch your arm. You can look at me or you can look at your own hand or you can close your eyes. You might try doing all three. Imagine we are really connecting hands. What do you feel? This may sound silly, but test out whether you feel different in any way. Do you feel a connection? You may. You may not. But I want you to write about it.

Write 2:

What do you notice in your body as you do this? What do you feel in your hand? How do you notice your breath? What is your connection to others right now? What is your connection to others in your life in general? Write this.

If this is too hard, doesn’t work for you, or you’re not into the idea, write about it anyways. You can begin writing any way you like, but if you are not sure, try to begin to write starting with one of these phrases:

  1. My hand connects to the hand of another person…
  2. My fingers reach…
  3. I have my hand up to a computer screen, connecting hands with the picture of another person’s hand.
  4. When the only way I have to physically connect with someone is through the computer…
  5. My hands see…

Check in with your body. regularly. How does it feel? Where do you notice that in the body? What do you notice? And write about it.

Thank you for writing with us today. If you would like to continue to write with us, tune back in on Tuesdays or follow the blog.

And whatever you do, please continue to Write your Butterfly!


Liza Wolff-Francis

Published by lizawolfffrancis

Liza Wolff-Francis is a poet and writer with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College who is proud to have served two terms as a member of the Albuquerque Poet Laureate Program’s Selection Committee. She was co-director for the 2014 Austin International Poetry Festival and a member of the 2008 Albuquerque Poetry Slam Team. She has an ekphrastic poem posted in Austin’s Blanton Art Museum by El Anatsui’s sculpture “Seepage” and her work has most recently appeared in Steam Ticket, eMerge, Minute Magazine, Weaving the Terrain: 100 Word Southwestern Poems, Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems, Poetic Routes, Poetry Pacific, Edge, and on various blogs. She has a chapbook out called Language of Crossing (2015, Swimming with Elephant Publications), which is a collection of poems about the Mexico- U.S. border. She loves breakfast food, popcorn and dark chocolate.

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