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"Someone once told me, before and after is just another false binary. The warmed-over bones of January"—Jenny Xie, from "Zuihitsui", in Eye Level: Poems

The other night I dream I'm on a shuttle, the type you take between airport terminals. I've been separated from my travel companions. I realise that I don’t know where I'm going or where I've come from. I can't understand my fellow travellers, or they couldn't understand me, nor did I have means to contact my original companions.

I haven't written a word, other than entries in my paper journal, in a long time. Sometimes I can't to bear to write in my journal. What can I say? I've stopped paying attention to things, real things, things in nature. The sum of my days since the year started is a list of duly repeated acts, unpunctuated by the surprise of travel or friendship: hurry from chore to chore, eat in a distracted state, walk the dog, practice yoga, watch telly. Stare into various screens, looking at what was left of the world, as received through images and conjecture and gossip, distracting myself, I guess, from the pandemic: the daily rate of deaths, the boredom, the imposed isolation from friends and family.

For the last hour, I’ve tried to gather impressions of the last few days and I sense nothing, a void, where there might have been a woman, a person, a desiring self. The the last few days have been left unwritten. Who am I outside of language? Why do I think of myself in terms of language? I think of the unwritten things, things not given form, just there in the background, in between the writtten things, which formed me, but are not recognised. There is another self, the shadow self, full of nonverbal things, feelings and attitudes and dreams that are not touched upon. For awhile I thought if I wrote everything down, faithfully, I could really know the shape of her, and I would somehow feel less anxious. But I could not fill enough pages in my diary to even draw one toenail of that shadow self. I wrote as if I was on a shuttle between two unfamiliar places, not knowing where I was going, surrounded by people who spoke a language I could not recognise.


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