I begin with this poem because it’s been on my mind recently. It feels like the world and everything around me has been in a state of constant crisis for approximately forever, now. Social media at times feels like a stream of fundraisers for pressing personal needs and friends and acquaintances reaching out for help, people talking about how afraid they are.
It starts to feel like the world is coming to an end.
Which is when I think of this poem: this is not your grave, get out of this hole. The holes which resemble the grave are an obvious metaphor; when you wake up what feels like every morning to some new incident of racist or sexist or homophobic or antisemitic or transphobic violence that puts you in fear for yourself, your family or your friends, it’s hard not to see the grave everywhere. Boyer acknowledges that sometimes even being in the hole may feel more tolerable and more okay than pulling oneself out—that it takes days or weeks or months or years, sometimes.
But in a world that keeps digging these godawful holes, we have each other: sometimes falling into holes with other people, with other people, saying “this is not our mass grave, get out of this hole,” all together getting out of the hole together, hands and legs and arms and human ladders of each other to get out of the hole that is not the mass grave but that will only be gotten out of together. Sometimes it’s going to be garbage getting out of that hole and sometimes it’s going to be more comfortable to think of this as the end rather than imagining a future. But if it’s not the grave—even if you can’t get out of it alone—it doesn’t have to be final.
And, maybe, eventually:
sometimes dutifully falling and getting out, with perfect fortitude, saying “look at the skill and spirit with which I rise from that which resembles the grave but isn’t!”