Letters from the Pandemic 29: Papyrus

by Diane McGee


Ezra Pound, Lustra (London: Elkin Mathews, 1916) (first edition)

Too long…

— “Papyrus,” by Ezra Pound [1]

Look: the ellipses speak. They shout, in fact, insistent. I see now; Covid has really improved my vision. It’s always been about the ellipses, never about the stated. Context confers definition, words are just vacant containers. Read or hear them, though, and your mind fires instantly, connecting the dots — image, memory, significance. For truth inhabits the in-between; words are mere illusions, easily turned against themselves, eviscerating their intent. Meaning lies in the ellipses. It lives there, always has.

This Spring, not just meaning, life exists in the ellipses.


En route, Oaxaca to Los Angeles
The Patio del Huaje in the Jardin Etnobotanico, with installation of Bosco Sodi, Oaxaca

Last Spring, I flew off on a solo adventure in Central America (remember: flight!). Covid was on the edge of consciousness. The night before I left, hand-sanitizer had vanished from shelves; by my return, entire aisles were barren.

One night early in lockdown, I put on music and danced, joy displacing sadness — that birdsong had replaced the drone of traffic; that workplace closure opened up hours to think self- interestedly; that I had everything I needed, and a beautiful environment to navigate in solitude — the beach, the canyons, the treelined streets — and the weather, always perfection. There were those long lines at the markets then, but even the Entitled of LA discovered solidarity. There was community in our shared uncertainty, and Life seemed precious…

But it has been so long. It’s no longer dancing, it’s one-foot-in-front-of-the-other. It’s making the best and wishing for an end. It’s surviving the ellipses of Gongula — the lost, the missed, the longed-for — between two springs…too long.


Diane McGee

Diane McGee entered SFU’s GLS Program in the Fall of 2020. Courtesy of Covid, she joins her cohort from Santa Monica, California, where she works in film, theater, and cultural production as a writer, performer, and agent.


The Ormsby Review. More Books. More Reviews. More Often.

Publisher and Editor: Richard Mackie

 The Ormsby Review is a journal service for in-depth coverage of B.C. books and authors. The Advisory Board consists of Jean Barman, Wade Davis, Robin Fisher, Cole Harris, Hugh Johnston, Patricia Roy, David Stouck, Maria Tippett, and Graeme Wynn. Scholarly Patron: SFU Graduate Liberal Studies. Honorary Patron: Yosef Wosk. Provincial Government Patron since September 2018: Creative BC

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Street Mural, Oaxaca

One comment on “Letters from the Pandemic 29: Papyrus

  1. This is so rich, Diane! I can only imagine the shock of coming back from vacation and discovering that the world — as you knew it — had changed. Agree that there are undeniable truths in the ellipsis.

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