As we make our way toward summer, our calendars begin to fill in anticipation of those longer days, those warmer nights: some of us braving travel again, some of us staying closer to home. Whether near or afar, we’ll likely spend more time with friends and family, though after more than two years of a pandemic, some of us may be a bit rusty in the art of relating to others. The stories in this issue feature characters at odds with their parents, their siblings, their roommates, their exes, and ultimately themselves. In Angela Sue Winsor’s “Widest Possible Aperture,” a young woman negotiates her father’s attempts to repair their relationship. Revisiting a childhood trauma, the narrator of Joy Guo’s “A Most Generous Offer” discovers that its ripples extend further than she’d realized and finds grace at the edges. In Alyson Mosquera Dutemple’s “Marvelous Freaks of Nature!” stories of biological anomalies resonate with a woman in deep denial following the end of a brief affair. And in Da-Lin’s “The Future Knows,” a young Taiwanese girl acquires an unusual power as the stresses of a high-profile kidnapping, the events of Tiananmen Square, and her parents’ marital struggles all converge.
This issue’s essays, occupying a perhaps more introverted space, consider our relationships with the things of this world: what we hold on to, what we let go of. Georgia Cloepfil’s essay “Decomposition Notebook” contemplates the nature of (im)permanance, from fruit rinds to mattresses: both the joy that comes from the transformation of scraps into sustenance via composting and the dismay at “how quickly things we know well can become useless, garbage, waste.” Carolyn Kuebler’s “Self-Storage” takes on questions of how to live with the accumulation of our things, our memorabilia, and how our memories and sense of identity may shift depending on those objects’ origins: digital or analog. And in a deep dive into the virtual world, city-building gamer Geoff Wyss examines the value of time, money, identity, and human connection found on the other side of the screen: “Its infinity means we find mirrors of ourselves more precise than reality ever offers.”
Whether your summer is spent in the company of others or in solitude, sorting your things or tending your garden, in the cloud or on the ground, I hope you discover in these pages something to hang on to, something to keep.
Something drew me to these poems, all selected from those sent to our submissions queue. Something in them called out and slowed me, in the way recognized language perks the ear and makes me stop. What did she say? So much vulnerability and intimacy here. Like I’ve eavesdropped on the conversation at the table behind me. Wait a minute. He just said something that sounded familiar. Amicable breakups and body issues and regrets about not taking what turned out to be the last trip with a grandfather. Re-visions of history and visits to the farm and what the light looks like in a certain place at a particular time. Lost landscapes and wild creatures and new ways to talk about love. Shh. I think that person just sang a line from a song I used to love. I haven’t heard that in years. These poems are sincere but also sometimes frivolous—if frivolity is the gesture of a heart willing to take risks that may or may not come with clear rewards. There are lessons here: about bats and fossils and rivers and abandon and winter. I hope they don’t stop talking. Like I’ve walked by the open door of a classroom and heard the professor provide answers to a test whose questions I had not known I’d puzzled over all this time. Many of the poets collected here were new to me, but they didn’t stay strangers for long. These poems are points of connection in a divided world. It’s so nice to hear someone else thinks this way too.
—Camille T. Dungy
Featured in This Issue
Emily Adams-Aucoin, Jeffrey Bean, Mary Helen Callier, Nicole Callihan, Georgia Cloepfil, Ashley Colley, Virginia Ottley Craighill, Laura Donnelly, Alyson Mosquera Dutemple, Mirri Glasson-Darling, Joy Guo, Mandy Gutmann-Gonzalez, Andrew Hemmert, Jessica Hincapie, Jodie Hollander, Chris Ketchum, Molly Sutton Kiefer, Tyler Kline, Emily Koehn, Carolyn Kuebler, Da-Lin, Luisa Muradyan, Jennifer Peterson, Sage Ravenwood, Natalie Scenters-Zapico, Martha Silano, C. Henry Smith, Meghan Sterling, John Sibley Williams, Angela Sue Winsor, Landa wo, Geoff Wyss