Though “The Age of Anxiety” was Auden’s description for the unsettled mood of the mid-twentieth century, surely every era has a legitimate claim to the term. In early 2024, we find ourselves in undeniably precarious times—world unrest, a changing climate, threats to our democracy—and many of us are looking for meaningful ways to express our fears, to illuminate the dark corners, to give shape to what haunts us. The prose in this issue thus speaks to a variety of anxieties, many of which, not surprisingly, are grounded in the elemental concerns of parenting and caretaking. In Michelle Ross’s “Little Pig, Little Pig,” a woman contends with her adolescent son’s desire to pull away from her while she simultaneously works to contain her fears about various environmental threats. Another mother, in Jared Green’s “The Garden of Perfect Brightness,” wrestles with a mysterious diagnosis and the powerful instinct to protect her young daughter. After a friend abandons her child, the narrator of Mary Grimm’s “Ghost Heart” reluctantly finds herself thrust into the role of mother and must learn the customs and borders of this terra incognita. In Alix Ohlin’s “The House on Front Street,” two young women, each in a tenuous place in life, are presented with an unexpected opportunity to offer refuge and care to a vulnerable neighbor—an act that seems to render a measure of clarity for them both. In her essay “The Moth Effect,” Kylie Smith explores the inheritability of mental health across three generations of women in her family. In “Nesting,” Jarek Steele recounts the growing distress of being pregnant while living in a vermin-infested dwelling just as the nesting instincts are kicking in. And Surya Milner’s “Protolith” braids a narrative about feeling protective of her ancestry, care for the West’s land, and the nature and value of what is extracted from that land: gold.

As you, dear reader, encounter the uncertainties of these days, I hope you will find meaning and clarity in that which sustains you; perhaps you’ll find it in these pages. Welcome to the spring issue.

—Stephanie G’Schwind, Editor-in-Chief


There has always been a sweet and disturbing brinksmanship about springtime. Everything, in its cool, familiar isolation, hesitates upon an edge. Life reflects upon the innumerable, often fearful, consequences of living. And then leaps. But this year, the isolation feels somehow heavier and the hesitation somewhat more exacting, more detailed. Five minutes with any newspaper or cable news program more than explains. Wars without ceasing. Discord in every instance of public discourse. As Jessica Dionne rightly commands, “Imagine the ark, imagine the warning.” Every cause comes with a caution. Consider the intricate allegory of Joshua Kurtz’s “Her Bear”—our origins, our simplest tenderness, may not be up to the brutal challenges of history. And so, almost against its very nature, spring becomes a pause, what Caroline Harper New describes as “A memory of falling / inward.” But the good news is that, within the pause, virtue persists, and even in its isolation, virtue fructifies. With a little help, vertu transcends distraction and delay—as Katharine Rauk puts it, “God separates my loneliness from the chaff.” It turns out, as always, that poetry, given a moment, is more than competent to this world.

—Donald Revell, Poetry Editor


Featured in This Issue

Mirande Bissell, Bruce Bond, Jessica Dionne, Eran Eads, Michael Fulop, Jared Green, Mary Grimm, Chelsea Christine Hill, John James, Alicia Byrne Keane, Joshua Kurtz, Melissa Kwasny, Andrew Maxwell, Surya Milner, Christopher Brean Murray, Caroline Harper New, Alix Ohlin, Erin Pesut, Katharine Rauk, Erica Reid, Rebekah Remington, Jack Ridl, Camila Ring, Michelle Ross, Kylie Smith, Jarek Steele, Alex Tretbar, Lauren Whitehurst, Saadi Youssef