On Walking When Walking Is Advised Against Keavy Handley-Byrne (MFA PH 2020)

In her essay “Fantasia,” Diane Ackerman writes at length about the necessity of walking for many writers; I am this kind of writer. When it used to be that we were allowed to go outside and walk around without a mask on, when we could walk just for the hell of it, I used to walk as much as I could. I am, by nature, a creature on foot—I’ve been walking distances of three or more miles since I was a teenager. I would sneak out of the house to walk to the grocery store with my best friend when we were fifteen or so, only to wander around inside the store for an hour when it was deserted.

Ackerman writes: “There’s a sonneteer in our chests; we walk around to the beat of iambs.” It makes me think of the “old brag of my heart: I am, I am, I am” that Plath so eloquently defined for me. I walk in time with my heartbeat most days, which is faster than most prefer. I have heard from my partner that I am a problem to walk with, since I go so quickly and yet stop so often to make a photograph.

The confinement of quarantine has taken its toll on my photographic practice; even the photographs I’ve made in the past in my home have been most often made after walking. I am trying to figure out how to walk without walking, how to be inside and yet breathe in the outdoor air. I have repositioned my desk in my makeshift studio to face out the window, so that I can see branches move and raindrops collect and fall on the safety grate. If not by walking, how else to remind myself that I live inside a body? How else to feel that body meld with the external world if not to place feet to concrete, heel-toe, heel-toe?

Rainbow highway, Fort Worth. Photo by the author.

To make a photograph is to write a metaphor. When I write a metaphor it is from seeing something that rouses a deep emotion within me. Watching the wake of a ferry, seeing laps of water fold over and over each other, I can see the light pass through its particles and refract, illuminating colors the water contains but does not always show. Grief is green and yellow within the Hudson River; they are there, but only seen by virtue of certain casts of light passing through them. White, too, is there, but only churned up by something else passing over or through the water.

  1. Call for Submissions
  2. 3.29.20 Irina V. Wang
  3. Let Yourself Be Lifted Jackie Scott
  4. Art Is Everything Jen Liese
  5. Two Poems Ella Rosenblatt
  6. Living Room Dance Party Ariel Wills
  7. On Walking When Walking Is Advised Against Keavy Handley-Byrne
  8. Untitled Cita Devlin
  9. Ads in Corona Hannah Oatman
  10. COVID-19 and Communitas Elaine Lopez
  11. A Time for Pie Elizabeth Burmann
  12. How to Stay Motivated When You’re Stuck at Home Clarisse Angkasa
  13. Coerced Harmony (A Tour) Hammad Abid
  14. Zooming In and Out Tongji Philip Qian
  15. [Form] Ciara Carlyle
  16. Hi.txt Dan Luo
  17. A poem about boredom, a composite Maixx Culver-Hagins
  18. Eyewitness News Tristram Lansdowne
  19. Distance Maps Marcus Peabody
  20. Therapeutic Suggestion Maria Aliberti Lubertazzi
  21. Keep Your Heart Six Feet Away From Mine (and other moments) Arielle Eisen
  22. Twenty Instructions for COVID-19 Charlott Isobel Dazan
  23. Cuerno 1 y 2 Yan Diego Estrella Wilson
  24. A Monolith of Grief Regarding the Absence of Touches, or Letter to a Future Lover García Sinclair
  25. Coronavirus by the Thousands Drew Dodge
  26. Two Poems Kathryn Li
  27. Beds Are Burning Aleks Dawson
  28. Still Lifes Yidan Wang
  29. Fragments of Seva Jagdeep Raina
  30. Packing Up and Staying Woojin Kim
  31. Chronic Pain and Fermentation Ralph Davis
  32. Quarantine Letters Hannah Moore
  33. Sounds of Silence: An Isolation Soundscape Dara Benno
  34. 14 Day Detox for Designers Erica Silver

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