I don’t know how to write this editorial.
I didn’t know what to expect for this issue. I didn’t know where we’d be, regarding the pandemic; I know enough epidemiology to know that it would still be here, but all I knew was that the world would be impossibly, unimaginably changed.
We have been dwelling in grief, these last three months. Both global and personal.
My dog Nicodemus died during this bizarre time. I knew, when the lockdown started, that he wouldn’t make it to the end of it; he’d lived for years with heart disease, far longer than the vet predicted, but he was very much a little old man of a dog. Arthritis, then seizures, and I held him on my chest for hours that last day, waiting, never leaving, while the world outside was similarly slow and strange.
Okay, I thought. I’ll write about my little guy. He was our second mascot; it fit. The pandemic was still too large, too unfathomable. But I can write about one tiny tough little pup.
And then George Floyd was murdered on the street, live on video. Murdered by police, like so many Black people in America. And there had been uprisings before, after so many years of the police murdering Black people, but nothing like this. It was as if the all-encompassing grief we’ve all been feeling transmuted to righteous anger. In the middle of the fear and loss of the pandemic… that wasn’t enough for his killers. It hadn’t touched them.
No one could do anything about the pandemic. Sure, there are precautions, but we are all still horribly vulnerable. We cannot fully control that.
But George Floyd’s murderers made a choice. They chose to take a life. They chose that because Black lives meant nothing to them.
And the rest of the world rose up and said, basically, “Fuck you. Black lives matter to us. Not. One. More.”
We have to change the world.
We have nothing left to lose.
Because we’re a quarterly magazine, we run a little behind on world events. This normally isn’t a problem, but it currently leaves us ill-equipped to speak to our current moment. So after this issue – or before, just come back to us when you can! – please do read up on the history of police brutality against Black people in America. Read about the racist foundations of American policing, and how little everything has changed in all these years. For poetry, read Danez Smith’s Don’t Call Us Dead.
And then resolve to change it. Right now.
A Terry Pratchett quote has been going through my head this whole time. Not the equally-appropriate quotes from the Watch books, but one from young witch Tiffany Aching:
“All witches are selfish, the Queen had said. But Tiffany’s Third Thoughts said: Then turn selfishness into a weapon! Make all things yours! Make other lives and dreams and hopes yours! Protect them! Save them! Bring them into the sheepfold! Walk the gale for them! Keep away the wolf! My dreams! My brother! My family! My land! My world! How dare you try to take these things, because they are mine!
I have a duty!”
– Terry Pratchett – The Wee Free Men
Readers, we have a duty.
Protect each other. Protest in every way that you can. Keep washing your hands, wearing your masks. Call your elected officials. Demand justice. Mourn the dead and fight like hell for the living.
This issue, I bring you poems from our self-quarantined islands, messages flung out across the world, seeking each other out. We are both alone and not alone. We stay apart now so that when we come together later, fewer of us are missing. But we can hear each other, even at this distance.
The mascot for this issue is Nicodemus Pontifex, the toughest little dog I’ve ever met, a former stray who was afraid of the world but leapt into my arms the moment he saw me. He loved and was loved fiercely. This picture is of the day we met. I hope he knew even then that he would be safe for the rest of his life.
Take care of each other out there.
Nicodemus Pontifex, 20??-2020. A Good Boy.