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Let’s Talk About the Elk

  • October 13, 2021

I’m trying hard not to see the elk as a broad metaphor — two years yoked, two years collared, finally starting to roam, however unsteadily — but I keep slipping into it. As the poet Marie Howe once said, “To resist metaphor is very difficult because you have to actually endure the thing itself, which hurts us for some reason.” She’s right. It’s tough to look at nearly two years of a pandemic head on, to describe exactly what happened and is happening. To talk about the grief and loss and hope without reaching for symbols, for comparisons that might confer some meaning on it all. The elk’s predicament (tire on neck) and its remediation (remove tire from neck) are appealing in their simplicity. Real life, of course, is sprawling, abstract, unpredictable. It’s easier to say “We are all the elk” than to reckon with the bewildering particulars of Covid, quarantine and after.

“Soul Train,” he explained, is his comfort food, his shortcut to joy. He plays the episodes in a constant loop on whichever screen is closest to him. The first time we met in person, “Soul Train” was playing on both television screens of his tour bus; the last time we talked by phone, he had just arrived home from a trip and, before even taking off his coat, had flipped on the show.

—From “The Passion of Questlove,” by Jazmine Hughes.

Send me your recommendations. What are you watching, reading, cooking or otherwise doing that you’d recommend other readers check out? Write to Be sure to include your full name and location and we might feature your response in a future newsletter. We’re At Home and Away. We’ll read every letter sent. As always, more good ideas for passing the time appear below. I’ll be back on Friday.

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