Thursday, September 10, 2020

Pandemic Meditations: Let's Play and Nights in a Pandemic by Grace June

For the next many weeks, at least through March, artists of all ilks will be sharing creative work that was done and/or responds to the pandemic in some way. To learn more about the Pandemic Meditation series--its background, impetus, and purpose, please read the Editor's Note in the first piece in the series.

Today, Spokane photographer Grace June shares a new poem and a new photograph series. I met Grace during her creation of the Survive Project, which you can learn more about in her bio, at the end.

As always, please share this work and the series with your friends and family by clicking on the web link at the top of your browser, copying it, and sharing it through email or social media. I hope that the series is one way that we can find each other during these new times. -EP


Let's Play

by Grace June

Pretend I’m a camera and look at me like

I just want to see you

Not you the voter

Not you the parent

Not you the Christian

Not you the artist

Not you my family

Not you, someone I love who thinks people I also love are verifiable terrorists or totally ignorant and hateful piles of misguidance due to a single letter. 

Pretend I’m a camera and I want to completely see you

Not you protesting

Not you protesting protesters

Not you protesting protesters who protest protesters

Not you and your red hat 

Not you and your hateful or loving (perspective pending) funeral signage

Not you and your loudspeaker 

Not you and your crowd shouting over the loudspeaker

Not you or your great hair and nails stepping out of your Benz

Not your shoes with holes with your sun worn fingers clutching a crumpled sign

Not you listening to me for hours and years as I heal

Not you and your status as a business owning entrepreneurial badass

Not your conspiracies that maybe offer the comfort of certainty

Not a post of an avocado toast smoothie graphic on a cat sweater

Our collective 300 bites of sushi over lunchtime therapy. With dessert.

Pretend I’m a camera and none of that makes a difference to me,

Other than appreciating the gift of your time and existence.

Pretend I’m a camera and I see us as something somewhat infrared

Extremely nonphysical and not at all Newtonian

Pretend I’m a camera and I want you to look at me like I’m a mirror

Or a blank wall

Or your child 

Or best friend

Or favorite movie.

Pretend I’m a camera and if you could show only me or maybe the entire universe

This one thing

Your face without light as you lie awake in bed

What would you look like? 

Pretend I’m a camera without a memory card and we both have just an instant to see your face or better still what your face isn’t, what face would you make? 

Pretend I’m a camera and I can’t hear you, what would you say? Would you still stand by your side?

Pretend there are no cameras. Pretend no one knows your name. Pretend you never had one. Pretend there is no mirror and no single reflective surface. Would you still be aware of yourself? 

Pretend I’m a camera that needs no performance. 

Pretend I’m not wearing a mask. Pretend the mask isn’t a physical and emotional barrier. Pretend that a global pandemic isn’t spreading both coronavirus and violence. Or the flu caused by 5G. Cameras really aren’t experts. 

Pretend for a moment that you don’t give a damn how I vote.

Pretend I’m your granddaughter who you took on walks with fluffy little dogs along pastures in the rain. 

Pretend I’m your daughter whose hand you held while my chubby legs tried to wobble on their own in long damp grass, springtime in springtime. 

Pretend I’m your sister who would do anything for you. Pretend it doesn’t and can’t matter that something as trivial and unimportant as beliefs make us any different than two kids playing hide and seek outside in the forest with dense ferns and branches letting us surprise each other. 

For solace or simple curiosity, as a camera I wander in empty parking lots at night looking at pretty multicolored lights, so empty and cold, silent with no news playing on anything anywhere. I don’t even wear a mask, because I’m alone. And because I’m a camera. 

Pretend you’re a camera and you live in the United States in 2020 in the Pacific Northwest in a town that’s not too big or too small, pretend that your friends are all on the right side and most of your family is also on the right side, it’s just a different right side from your friends’ right side and pretend that to be honest with any of them would have severe consequences exacerbated by under-medicated paranoia so no matter what you say to whomever you’re convinced actual loss could happen if you share how you really feel about just wanting to love and exist and drink in the most spare moments we get less and less of together. 

And sides just detract from the actual problems. Like systemic prejudice and injustice.

Pretend I’m a camera who didn’t realize neutral isn’t an actual setting. 

Pretend I’m a camera, pick me up and flip the screen so you can look at yourself. Maybe you’re a flower. Maybe you’re a house. Maybe you’re a Labrador. Maybe you’re a child of God. Maybe you’re very, very, serious. 

Pretend I’m a camera and I wanted to write something for you that would be impactful. Something that would matter even though I’m a camera who for a living questions what matters. The existential wonderment of being raised to an eye and triggered with a finger. 

I’m just a camera without a photographer. 

And I want. 


Nights in a Pandemic

Grace June

(Note: Please contact Grace June for permission before using any of the above photographs.)


Grace June
photo by Phil June

Grace June grew up in Alaska and now lives in Spokane where she works as writer, visual artist, and insurance professional. 

For the past seven years, Grace has been creating self-portraits both for enjoyment and as an approach to mental-health recovery. In 2018, she received a grant through Spokane Arts that funded Survive, a photo and book project about suicide survivors in Spokane. Thirty of 100 books were donated to Spokane Public Schools. 

Grace and her husband Phil have two cats, and although the four of them are deeply introspective and philosophical, the whole family absolutely loves binging TV pretty much on a nightly basis, mostly as escapist anesthetization in order to maintain a semblance of sanity. Learn more about her work at