There’s no denying a certain fascination with the extreme—stories of grand-scale fortune, loss, celebrity, infamy, adventure, depravity, and redemption. But often the more resonant stories reside not in the extreme, but between its polarities, or at its threshold. Carole Firstman’s “Liminal Scorpions” articulates the thread of in-betweenness running through this issue’s essays and stories: liminality is “the place,” she writes, “where you teeter between action and inaction, the moment you consider calling for help; . . . a sliver of time so fine, so sharp, it defies balance.” Contemplating her often strained relationship with her arachnologist father, Firstman asks: “Good daughter or bad? Perhaps I was both in that moment, a morally liminal creature with one foot on each side.” In her essay “Light Up and Break,” Amy Butcher examines a confluence of transitional stages when her parents sell her childhood home: the state between wake and sleep, home and not-home, and that one moment right before everything changes. Angela Mitchell returns to us with a sequel to “Animal Lovers,” her 2009 Nelligan Prize–winning story; in “Retreat,” Dee chooses to drift between not knowing and not wanting to know what her employers really do, and suffers the consequences of her willful oblivion. The characters in William Torrey’s “The Common Era” negotiate the charged terrain between teacher and student, culminating in a disastrous moment in which history inevitably, heartbreakingly, presages the future. And in Sandra Demarest’s haunting “In Fiji,” a free-spirited woman, chafing under the yoke of marriage and motherhood, inhabits a world in which she straddles the borderlands of fantasy and reality, exotic and mundane, and life and death.
In your own moments of in-betweenness this summer, we hope you can find a quiet, shady spot to savor these stories.

—Stephanie G’Schwind, Editor

Welcome to the summer, the season in which “everything starts to wild up” (Eryn Green). The poetry in this issue is Janus-faced; some poems look over their own shoulders, while others stare unflinchingly into the future. It is so by necessity. As Thom Donovan writes, “the world continues / to end.” Perhaps because so many of these poems are concerned with current and impending disasters—ecological, economic, interpersonal—they seem intent on charting both the ways in which the world continues and the ways in which it cannot. The poem is a space and an occasion for such charting; it is “how we figure / where we come from” (Maggie Evans). Go ahead, enter in.
—Sasha Steensen, Poetry editor

Featured in This Issue

Tory Adkisson, E. C. Belli, Amy Butcher, Jo Ann Clark, Jesse Damiani, Sandra Demarest, Nick Demske, Thom Donovan, Laura Eve Engel, Maggie Evans, Catherine Faurot, Carole Firstman, Jessica Garratt, Kate Greenstreet, Eryn Green, Kimberly Grey, Nathan Hauke, Brenda Hillman, James Henry Knippen, Karen Kovacik, Eireann Lorsung, Caroline Manring, Evan McGarvey, Angela Mitchell, Marcin Orlinski, Allyson Paty, Sankar Raman, Peter Ramos, Danniel Schoonebeek, Tim Shaner, Barbara Tomash, William Torrey, Ryo Yamaguchi

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