Wednesday, April 3, 2024

(dis)robe: Hospital Gown

This wearable art project about Long Covid is finally finished and filmed (thanks to Taliesin River!) It's also available to see on Instagram if you like, in a different format:
Thank you SO much to the hundreds of people who participated, who shared this journey and who have held my heart as I worked on this. It has been my huge honour to represent you all in this way; to create something that can speak for us.
(dis)robe: Hospital Gown will be performed and displayed at the Art Vancouver fair, April 11-14, 2024. 
(To see full-screen video, click "YouTube" when it begins playing, and watch on YouTube.)

Text of the poem from the video (Emily van Lidth de Jeude):
It's Not Over
                  from behind the windshield
           waiting for my blood-test
           I see you getting        back to normal
                  walking on the sidewalk like
                                              it’s easy
                                because Covid is over
    telling me
           don’t worry
                  it’s safe now
           just get some exercise
        you’ll feel better       stop masking
           because covid is over
              and you don’t see
    that behind my mask I’m masking
                         my disability

because now my normal is different than yours
           and the Covid is not over
              when I walk       the blood
                pools in my legs and my lungs constrict
                  and the pox come back       the shingles
                    and the screaming       lungs
                     hold fluid         exhaust me
                     and the world becomes blurry
              I can’t see
you anymore because my mind is blurrier than the windshield

but it’s not over when I get home       I will stop masking
     what I’m living with       collapse       shake
           never mind the bone-ache
        I will treat my fever and sleep
     for a week
and it won’t be over

but now, because a blood-test means hope
with a hand on my back he walks me to the lab
he took the day off work to drive me here
I long to work again     just walk       even
                                     to feel valuable
but I don’t tell him that
because his burden is already
              too much

in the morning he rolls me
presses pillows under me
and pulls underpants onto my feet
so I can reach them       he strokes my hair
and brings me food and asks
if I’m OK
                         and I say better
                          than yesterday
                     I’m afraid of his fear
              and it’s ironic consolation
          that I’m one of many millions
             that my small adventure
                today    to the lab
                 is not even possible for so many of us
                    for whom Covid
is not over

    and four years of doctors wringing hands       telling us
           there’s nothing they can do and we should learn to
                         maybe we just have asthma       or anxiety
                              maybe we’re just sensitive
                                                    or lazy
                  and it never ends
                                                                 and it’s not over
          we keep persisting
          go for more tests
          visit more specialists
          explain to more family
                                                     it’s not over
                                                 but we keep persisting

and in moments of despair
looking out from the pall
we quietly tell other long-haulers
because they’ll understand                    we wish
                                                          it was over
                  and in silence
              with blurred vision
         and shaking hands
                we hold each other up
           by the hundreds and thousands
                                                 by the millions
                                               we keep persisting
                              it’s not over

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