East River, New York City

A late-night walk through the city to pick up some supplies and leave them outside my elderly neighbor’s door. I knock lightly and walk away like a prankster. So much can change in a week. I hear the undoing of a lock and her voice calling behind me. “Thank you, darling. Pray for me.”

The twenty-four-hour Walgreens on the corner is closed. Like a tragic bird, I smash into its sliding doors, expecting them to slide open. New York’s babble and hum have been muted. No more honking, laughter, or drifting music. You can hear your footsteps. And sirens.

Tonight I’m gripped by a wild urge to kneel in a church even though I have no religion or semblance of otherworldly faith. I think about the padded bar that flips down to cushion your knees, if it has a liturgical name or whether some denominations consider this a form of cheating. I think about the origins of the word knee, short and stabby.

I once heard a street preacher holler that we must drop to our knees and atone because kneel comes from the Latin for to know. Or that Leonardo da Vinci believed compressing the nerves in the knee generated spiritual thoughts. I don’t think any of this is true, this garbled information that came from god knows where. But these days kneeling before a neighbor’s door—or next to my bed while mumbling a makeshift prayer—is beginning to make some kind of sense.

Mojave 3 – Prayer for the Paranoid

from Excuses for Travellers | 4AD, 2000 | Spotify
Each night in 2020, I wrote a short post for a series called Notes From the End of a World because I wanted to etch these days into my memory. Before the world changed completely.
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