Reviewing my Amazon “Saved for Later” section reveals growing anxieties which seem ironic now in this time of genuine disruption. These include “bug out” boxes for “disaster survivors” (added in the wake of the Pickering Nuclear Emergency Warning); two “tactical” pens—pens which double as weapons, knives, compasses, something I would never purchase even at the more reasonable price of $16 (compared to the better reviewed pen, also saved for later, at $90) because of the existential line that would be crossed, but instead betray a fascination with the inventive anxiety which drives the desire for hidden weapons always at hand; water purification straws, dry milk powder, a scythe blade (currently unavailable), as well as the books of poetry and theory that regularly gather in my checkout cart only to be placed, with hesitation but no small amount of relief, back on their digital shelves. 

More recent items reveal the actual concerns (so far) of what has been anxious and challenging but, so far, weirdly tame, isolation. A silicon donut mold (three-pack) steadily rising in price to meet the market demand of millions of households spending all day in front of the oven. A micro-SD card for the video game system that I think I have already given both enough money and time. Cabinet locks to keep my suddenly stir-crazy cats out of the cupboard (but why are they so expensive?). A converter to allow HDMI to plug into an old A/V television (definitely a luxury). 

My anxieties, which were all about flight, collapse, disaster, haven’t exactly been assauged. It feels just as likely, to me, that the world will end inventively in some kind of climate-related catastrophe, and not one that is particularly far away. Perhaps a little less likely only because of the current pause of (non-essential) industry, and a perhaps-growing awareness of human vulnerability and social possibility. But something else has been revealed, that I do feel less anxious about. I spent a lot of time thinking about fleeing the city because, in all likelihood, I would have had to—not due to an unforseen, sudden disaster, but to the slower disaster of capitalism and commodity trading which has turned housing in Toronto into a luxury item. Fleeing the city both in the wake of violence and also to anywhere that would have me—where I could imagine putting down roots, building a life that otherwise seemed perpetually precarious. And in that sense I feel relief, hope for falling prices, crashed markets, Airbnb speculators losing their shirts and flooding the market with cheap rentals, condos, properties. It’s one of a number of things that I hope COVID-19—the uncertainty but also the possibility riding on its heels—turns around. 

Now, reason, says love, understand your demand. He that burns feels no cold, just as he who has drowned feels no thirst. And this soul, says love, is so burnt in the furnace of the fire of love that she has become fire, she feels fire no longer because she herself is fire, by the virtue of the love that that has brought her into him, that fine love. This fire burns from him, in him, in all places and moments of time, without taking any matter of will into its substance, except from himself. For whoever feels anything of God, by matter that he sees or hears outside him, or for labour that he does by himself, it is not this fire, but this fire with matter mixed into its substance. For the labour of man, and the desire to have matter outside themselves to increase their love, this is but a shadow or glimmer of the knowledge of the bounty of God. They that burn with this aforesaid fire, without seeking matter to have or to will, see so clearly in all things that they praise them as they deserve to be praised, for these souls have no matter in them which might blemish their clear sight.

Marguerite Porete, The Mirror of Simple Souls
(translation mine, from the Middle English)

What I’ve accomplished. Perhaps nothing. Impossible to write, even poems, when you feel no distance from anything. (Least of all, from yourself—closer instead to your animal yearning than to anything that might hope to transform itself with a sentence.) I am on my hands and knees seeking matter. I am looking to obscure myself with substance. I’ve written it a hundred times before, perhaps a thousand—I’m tired of living this way.