Chen-ou Liu's Translation Project: First English-Chinese Haiku and Tanka Blog

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Silent Epidemic

“312 people died of suspected opioid overdoses last month, more than the total number of people in the province who have lost their lives to the coronavirus.” The reporters turn to each other, not a word uttered. A silence envelops the conference room for a while. 

“I cannot express how shocking this news has been to hear,” says the province’s top doctor at the briefing, fighting to hold back her tears.  “The overdose crisis is rooted in pain. Stigma, shame and fear or distrust of authorities have prevented drug users from seeking help. Most of them died in the shadow of a back alley or behind the dumpster.” 

The doctor’s concluding remark unsettles in the darkest corners of my mind. I put the TV on mute and grow restless.
a baby
in the crook of her arm …
she writes we miss you
inside a purple heart
on the memorial walk

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart says he will ask the federal government to approve a plan to decriminalize simple possession of illicit drugs in the city. The move comes as the overdose crisis shows no sign of slowing, with 2020 tracking to be the worst year on record.  

FYI: BC’s Deadliest Year for Overdoses and a ‘Shameful,’ ‘Unconscionable’ Response: At least 1,716 people died in 2020, almost five years after the province declared an overdose health emergency. The Tyee, Feb. 12