Share Your Stories

Understorey Magazine is sharing your stories of the COVID-19 pandemic. Are you staying home? Working extra hours? Unable to work at all? Are you caring for others or do you need care yourself? What worries you the most? What do you hope for?

Send us your stories as poetry, essay, fiction, comics, diary entry, letter, or other creative form and we will post them as a special series below. Email submissions to editor@understoreymagazine.ca

Please note that publishing these stories is not covered by grants we have received for our regular issues. As a result, and unfortunately, we do not have funds to pay writers for COVID-19 submissions. We hope this series provides a means of connection and expression through very unusual times. We are still accepting submissions to Issue 18 on Gender and Technology. As with all of our regular issues, honorariums are available for accepted work.


Three Haiku

By .

Today’s sum twenty
Eight thousand and two hundred
Forty-four ascents.

Sun sears fishbone sky
Cloudbursts pierce quicksilver hems
Earth inhales exhales.

White noise lie in state
Silent sky and interstate
Doves know no borders.

Diago’s Dark Waters

By .

On our tour of the Rio Negro, while the boat
putters across its strong-tea waters
local guide, Diago adds colour commentary

in addition to the construction genius of a bridge
over 2 miles long with 246 supporting columns, he adds
that each month 24 people plummet to death from it

he describes first contact with Europeans,
how villagers leaped into currents to drown
terrified by the strange fevers of smallpox

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An Unexpected Delivery: Day 8ish Covid Clampdown

By .

A package arrived yesterday afternoon via UPS, just as John was taking Rudi, our little dachsie, out for a pee. Well, bedlam ensued. Rudi and I were squeezed in the storm porch between open doors. My husband John was on the front steps trying to shut the door. The delivery guy was trying to give the parcel to John. John was trying not to take the parcel. The dog was barking—a lot and loudly.

I started running around trying to find a plastic bag for the package that John was now holding on my return to the door. John called for scissors to open to package because he didn’t want to bring it inside.

I ran back to the kitchen and yelled that I was getting a bag from under the sink and to leave it all outside…. Good grief.

It was like someone had just delivered a bomb. God.

We have to “cam down,” as they say around here. My friend said that her father, who was a fisherman, used to say about the sea some days: “It’s a flat-ass sea.” So we must be.

The package is now in isolation for a week.

Falling In a Pandemic

By .

Yesterday, I saw a woman fall and everything changed.

I decided to go for a drive with my dog, Bella. Roll the windows down so she could take in the scents of another neighbourhood. I just wanted to drive. No music, no inspirational podcasts, just silence and the cool air, the bright sun and us, just driving.

I set off east on Queen street. No decided direction. What rare moment in a day is this? To do something without aim or task to check off the list. To meander in a kind of illusion of freedom. Reminds me of being a kid when the days seemed so long and we could hang out in trees or wander through the woods aimlessly, spontaneously, joy-fully. Inventing each moment as it arrived. I miss that kind of presence that seemed to flow in us so effortlessly. Now, we have to make time for it. Set a schedule so you can “fit in” the meditation, the journaling, the exercise…reading.

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Grandparenting in COVID-19

By .

Precious days lost
Will I miss her first steps?
Daily photos and videos help
But I can’t touch her soft skin
Pat her round belly
Inhale her baby scent

FaceTime becomes “Story Time with Grandma”
She reaches out to touch my face
Opens and shuts the iPad for Peek-a-boo
And giggles as I feign surprise
I read her favourite books
Make animal noises,
Delight her with pop-ups

When she fusses I sing “Skinnamarink”
Her face relaxes, tears dry
I sign off and she searches the room
No fears, dear Josie
Grandma will be back.