Our project “Face of Home” began spontaneously when a resident saw a portrait painted by a local artist. She invited the artist and her friends to paint at Great River Terrace. Each week, while the artists painted, a resident would sit and talk with me in the common room. I typed in a rough shorthand, and in the weeks following we edited the text together.
I got here in September. I get choked up talking about it.
I got used to losing everything, and finally, I lost my hope.
After living in other people’s houses and sleeping outside,
I had a hard time saying, Meet at my apartment.
It seemed weird, awkward, unfamiliar.
It took practice. Come to my place.
It was like learning a new word: HOME.
Covid-19 interrupted this project. Spring and summer, we stayed away. In September, we arranged to meet, masked, outside until the cold made it impossible to paint and type.
My friends at Green River Terrace are striving to reinvent their lives after traumas that led to homelessness and their existence in survival mode, sometimes for years. We try to stay in touch, “liking” and commenting on Facebook memes and sorrows.
In the common
room, your portraits
bloom, alive and
Little did we know
how long the longing
Dry wind blew.
I landed on your
to ask how you
masked, on the
the artists drew,
I memorized your
That regal tree on
with a name
stays rooted here,
though her gold
leaves shook and
Be easy now,
Let her mom-arms
Scenes From a Pandemic is a collaboration between The Nation and Kopkind, a living memorial to radical journalist Andrew Kopkind, who from 1982–94 was the magazine’s chief political writer and analyst. This series of dispatches from Kopkind’s far-flung network of participants, advisers, guests, and friends is edited by Nation contributor and Kopkind program director JoAnn Wypijewski, and appears weekly on thenation.com and kopkind.org.