Issue #11

July 20, 2015

Letter from the editor

Rebecca Starks, Mud Season Review editor-in-chief

The work in this issue of Mud Season Review examines cycles and the breaking of cycles, lines and the breaking of lines. Robert Earle’s “Say Uncle” brings us to the diplomatic ending of a family quarrel, as a son finally comes of age to enter into a dispute he’s stayed at the edges of. He’s a second in a duel between doppelgängers, a pawn but also a diplomat working to patch up the wars of the previous generation, and the sole heir of his family, finally given a name. This King Solomon bases his decision on psychological need, not abstract right.

Rain Wright’s memoir, “The Grey House Didn’t Speak,” records a different kind of break with the past, a leave-taking: an account of what the narrator takes with her and leaves behind. Reliving the memories that brought her to a point of departure, she brings the memory palace of her childhood, the people she has loved, and years of mostly single motherhood inside her. The essay adopts the rhetorical tradition of occupatio: saying what you aren’t going to say. Silence is transmuted from what once fearfully protected the father of her children to what she uses to protect them, breaking the cycle of abuse. The essay is the pebble she keeps beneath her tongue. The father, exiled, retains the power of the taboo; he is never named.

Diana Whitney’s poetry follows a similar vein of cleansing lyricism, exploring “the spaces between where we’ve been / and where we’re going” (“First Kiss”). Occupatio becomes “the continuous sweeping / of dust through a screen door” (“Detox Cleanse”). The poems push toward new, animal life and awareness, “the surprise of living in a body / tethered to the tides and the seasons” (“Eat the Peach”). They follow the “anonymous urge” that opens “Hotel Room”—both the urge to be anonymous and an unnamed urge.

The blank canvas of the hotel bed, painted with love-making, could be a description of some of Jenn Warpole’s paintings: “lily sheets stretched taut / over the bare frame, / primed for the first mark— / a toe, a brushstroke, fingertips, / pigments, skin oils tinged / in rose and rust sketching / our tangled intentions.” Warpole’s figures—human, animal, or fairy—have a fairytale quality to them, a lightness, a potential for flight and motion, their wings figural or actual. Less than fully realized, they retain the ability to turn from one thing to another, even as they pause in their migration. The paintings are untitled—more of the anonymous urge.

Rebecca Starks, editor-in-chief