In this poetic record of responses to her close friend and collaborator, Polly Constance captures the broken forms of contact and socially distanced care many of us have encountered during lockdown.
Waking up and the first thing I see is him looking back at me
and we smile, and he goes back to his phone,
laid out on the deflated air mattress.
Scrambled eggs and bagels for breakfast.
Only you didn’t cook enough eggs.
Not five minutes in town and a monk has given us
a book of wisdom
in exchange for a pound donation.
Turns out he is practicing old age and I was caught out saying
‘I don’t mind’.
A temporary goodbye as we wish him all the best.
Catching the last of the sundown in the lake.
Your head bobs above the water and the geese fly overhead.
I’m ready for a curry. Curry it is.
We were promised kidney or butter beans.
Turns out we have neither.
Talking of mad moving grandparents
and what would you buy five of in your midlife crisis?
Thinking of you. Particularly what you said about feeling further away from being able to call yourself a dancer. Not got any wise wisdom on it yet, but it’s okay and understandable and we’ve never been in this position before. We feel like dancers when we do the dancing and watch the dancing and work the dancing and are with others dancing or complaining about dancing. Something about how we left wanting to feel like normal people and now wanting back that feeling of dancerness.
But it’s still there, it can just feel a little further away at times compared to others. But it is there. You are a dancer, even when you’re not dancing.
We are enough.
A day of rushes to the station
and train journeys
and needing to dress for a whole day away from home.
A day of illegal squeezes,
sharing joys, excitements, wobbles,
because it’s a joke and not at all funny.
A day of cakes and pomegranate
hot juice drinks and debating ‘Polly’s chair’ and shop browsing and don’t touch the £40? No £120 scarf.
A day of emails and post-its
and cute dogs and waving across the platform and feeling like a full human person
outside in a world.
See you very soon.
It will all be okay. I know it’s not right now. But it will be.
I don’t believe words are much use right at the moment.
There are a lot of words around so I’m not going to try to articulate myself. I can show you I care and love you and support you and am always here. You’ve not dropped off the face of my earth.
The video chat ended.
2 hours 29 mins 3 secs, 16 Feb at 19:13
Love from Polly.
About Polly Constance
From sleepy Hampshire, Polly Constance is a southern based dance artist and recent graduate from Northern School of Contemporary Dance. She is the co-founder of Honestly Casual Projects, a new company established with Chana Joyce. Together they dream up new creations, practice the art of composing emails and are currently producing film works. Polly’s care for dance is rooted in her fascination for people. Connecting, sharing, listening, and experiencing the joy that can only come from moving your body, with other people, moving their bodies.
Polly paints, draws, always has a book on the go and plays with writing poems. She enjoys collecting postcards, finding clothes on Depop to only dream of buying and baking banana bread.
You can find out more about her work with Chana on Instagram @_honestlycasual
This piece was commissioned for Disembodied Voices: Friendship during COVID-19
How we think of friendship, intimacy and closeness has radically altered during this period, perhaps irrevocably. Lockdown and quarantine has left us relishing time with friends and family, or dealing with feelings of isolation, anxiety and abandonment. WhatsApp, Zoom and social media are our new lifelines, changing the tone, register and channels through which we communicate. We’ve reached out to old friends and been turned away by new ones; rekindled old bonds and discarded others. There are friends who inspire and those who infuriate; there are relations we’ve failed and some who’ve come through for us, and shown love in a way we’ve never experienced before.
We wanted to curate a series of essays, interviews and stories on friendship, experienced during the time of COVID-19. We were keen to hear from marginalised perspectives, underrepresented voices and communities significantly impacted by the virus.
We were also open to submissions and pitches on the representation and concept of friendship more generally. How friendship is represented on television, film, and social media; in books, music and videos, before and during the pandemic, is also important and features in some of the work in Disembodied Voices.
For the full series, click here here.
Submissions are now closed for this series.
Aysha Abdulrazak and Samaya Kassim,
Guest Editors of Disembodied Voices.
Feature image is by Polly Constance.