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HOME: There is a softness to our cages – Aaliyah Crawford

Under the skin and on top of me
Swarming, circling, stalking

I wake up some days too afraid to leave the bed

I hear the clock ticking too
But don’t you know the rest is worse?

There is a softness to our cages

I think of those who haven’t left in years
By choice or slavery or sometimes worse

I can’t complain and yet I must

Feet forward fear griping 
Baby teeth choke me but I swallow

No no no pumping in my blood

Child-like me holds tight while I feel
The lead blanket of cowardice

It’s easier said than felt, when it comes down to it

I think of stern men sobbing
Stone turned slick turned flesh

Am I co-opting someone’s pain or is this one my own?

I dream of friends lost
I am more myself than ever before
Paranoia turned to caution and other lines blur

There is something in the air
Other than that

You can smell it too, hairs upright, eyes unfocused

I think it was always here.


Self-isolation can heighten feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and depression. In these trying times, don’t hesitate to reach out to others or learn about the services that can help you and your loved ones. To start, here is the complete list of mental health services offered by Concordia University.


“HOME” is a seven part series addressing the personal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on my mental health. Through poetry and images, I aim to highlight the ways in which self-isolation has altered my relationship with my home and the objects within it. As time morphs into something semi-familiar, I and many others are finding themselves dependent, fixated, or longing for things in new ways. The phone, window, toilet paper all take on new roles in this new version of the day-to-day. Fuzzy images of a ghost-like me, or perhaps a ghost-like us, interact under the oppression of the unknown, and even more under the burden of the known. In this series, I hope to capture the strangeness of this time; its small comforts and heavy pains, to work through our experiences together.

Aaliyah Crawford is a Montreal Undergraduate student in Print Media exploring the themes of privacy, intimacy and abuse. By creating a dialogue between her lived experiences and those of the viewers through imagery, printed objects, installation and text, she attempts to bridge the gap between the innately individual and the universal, connecting viewer and artist through shared vulnerability. Guiding and prompting viewers, the work aims to disrupt, challenge and undermine the toxic and oppressive tropes surrounding all forms of emotional expression within the public, private and personal spheres. Delving into the multiple intersecting oppressive forces that she faces, she underlines the power of remaining soft under these pressures.

You can find Aaliyah’s work on instagram.

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