There are many images of the times we are in. The one above is closest to home – the community league playground just down the avenue. As the pandemic has eaten up time and geography, children are separated from friends, extended family, and just playing nearby. But… this too shall pass.
As I noted in “And the Land lay Fallow” – there are many images of what the land and air look like as industry has slowed down. Instead of satellite photos, these images shows what it is like on the ground.
With extreme care, the child is doubly protected as she is being held. One wonders if this is an image we will see more commonly going forward: babies born and then cylindarized out of the womb. We know the importance of human touch, how vital it is to be held close to one’s mother – and to feel skin to skin contact. We crave connection from the very beginning.
Discarded as Refuse
In contrast, here is an image of utter loss, not just of the newborn child discarded as refuse, but the loss of motherhood by untold desperations. CBC reported:
“This is, without a doubt, an extremely tragic incident,” Vancouver police Const. Tania Visintin said… “None of us can imagine what [the mother was] going through… we are very concerned for her physical well-being as well as her mental well-being. We desperately want to speak with her and have her medically assessed.”
Forgotten and Forsaken
There is something silently aching in this image of the numerous unclaimed dead lined up and efficiently buried in this massive unmarked grave. The Associated Press reported,
“As New York City deals with a mounting coronavirus death toll and dwindling morgue space, the city has shortened the amount of time it will hold unclaimed remains before they are buried in the city’s public cemetery.
Under the new policy, the medical examiner’s office will keep bodies in storage for just 14 days [instead of 30] before they’re buried in the city’s potter’s field on Hart Island.
Normally, about 25 bodies a week are interred on the island, mostly for people whose families can’t afford a funeral or who go unclaimed by relatives.
In recent days, though, burial operations have increased from one day a week to five days a week, with around 24 burials each day, said Department of Correction spokesperson Jason Kersten.Aerial images taken by The Associated Press captured workers digging graves on the island, a one-mile, limited-access strip off the Bronx that’s the final resting place for more than a million mostly indigent New Yorkers.
Before burial, the dead are wrapped in body bags and placed inside pine caskets. The deceased’s name is scrawled in large letters on each casket, which helps should a body need to be disinterred later. They are buried in long narrow trenches excavated by digging machines.
“They added two new trenches in case we need them,” Kersten said. To help with the surge, and amid an outbreak of the COVID-19 respiratory illness caused by the virus at the city’s main jail, contract labourers have been hired, he said. Previously, prisoners had been used to dig the island’s graves.”
Lament of the Lost
It makes me want to grieve on their behalf; perhaps on behalf of the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and even friends who lost track of their loved one. Indeed to die alone adds another sorrowful layer of lament to this pandemic. Here the bodies of the dead appear to be forgotten and forsaken.
There is something about the silence of photos that cause us to pause. At their best, they force us to look at every detail and to contemplate the meanings buried within.
What Images have Impacted you?
For more see The Loneliness of Dying Alone.