a video by BALLA MAL KASSÉ
It is just dawn and I’m longing for the arms of another, toes brushing in sleep, breathing low and steady. Or for my friends in the kitchen, their hands gentle on the bulbs of garlic, on the ladle, on the cup of wine. But for now they are alone like me: tender, wounded beasts on the other side of this tiny screen that glows like a lighthouse, like a beacon in the night.
“How are you?”
Scraps of their words reach me, but it’s that careful embrace that I crave: to be cradled like I cradle my child. To be held, rocked into the long silence of sleep with tender devotion. Instead, I sleep alone. And wake in swirls of words and words, only words, illuminated. Words, as they say, like a prison house, keeping forever out of reach that subtle, sweet susurration of breath or fingertips at the nape of my neck. Or the nape of yours.
There are, they say, gifts in solitude. Even in grief the pieces rearrange, make a newly unique pattern. I keep waiting for us all to arrive there, on the other side of these two long years of loss, of disappointment, silence and separation, of touch confined, so often, to the screen. But as this liminal time of illness and longed-for care morphs and persists, it seems, touch, or being-together-with remain hard-won at best, impossible at worst. In our fourth issue exclusively for our friends and supporters, TOUCH, we seek ways toward a renaissance of tenderness, of care, of touch, whether in togetherness, or solitude and separation. We seek ways toward changed forms of community, solidarity, expressions of love that lie outside of language, changed notions of what, exactly, it means to touch.
ANNE MARIE WIRTH CAUCHON editor
Anne Marie Wirth Cauchon is Editor-in-Chief of Stillpoint Magazine, and Creative Director of the PrairieCare Institute’s Center for Applied Psychoanalysis, the mother of two, a PhD candidate in English and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota, and the author of the novel Nothing.
BALLA MAL KASSÉ artist
Balla Mal Kassé is a self-taught transmasc multihyphenate with roots in Watikubuli. They grew up between the French western countryside and Paris’s suburbs. They started to explore their passion for images through street photography and documentaries— notably, by doing framing and editing for the nomadic platform Floating Key (2018) and for Nyansapo Festival (2019). This year, they’re focused on training as a cinematographer with an interest in telling diasporic and queer Caribbean stories.
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