January 20, 2017
Letter from the editor
“You refuse to budge and we refuse to let you go.” Meredith Boe’s lyric essay “Gravity” is a beautiful reflection on the process of grieving. We all know the five stages of grief and tend to think of them as occurring in a particular order, but in reality, it’s never so clean and simple. They can occur out of order. They can occur simultaneously. They can play out over and over again. The moments and observations that Boe weaves together here provide the reader with a window into this complexity, a mind that seems to be experiencing denial, sadness, and a reluctant acceptance all at once.
Thomas Benz’s story “The Waiting Moon” focuses on another kind of loss – the loss of youth, and even more so, the loss of a particular era of someone’s life and all that they associate with that era: the people they dated, the books they read, that one amazing apartment where they lived one summer. At first, it appears the main character has accidentally stumbled onto this path of nostalgia, but the attraction to the past remains such a driving force that by the end, we’re wondering if he was subconsciously pulled by it all along – and if he will continue to be obsessed with seeking out what is “There but not there. Gone but not gone.”
Our featured poet Talal Alyan renders loss into concise and vivid images that feel like an assault on the soul. In “Manifest Destiny,” it’s the loss of the peaceful past that could have been – but never was; in “Fallout,” the imagined loss of our species and the ensuing collapse of our systems and structures. In comparison to these, the loss of an insect in “Locust” may seem minor, but it may be the one that stings the most. It perfectly illustrates that mixture of carelessness and hubris that typifies humanity, the (sometimes well-intentioned) desire to charge in and save the day – “oh glory of / our lord, / the mercy of giants.” All three poems give a nod to the consequences of this mentality; “Locust” forces us to confront it on a more visceral level.
Jane Lafarge Hamill preserves overlooked (“uncounted”) memories in the creation of her art, but she is painting the emotional imprint of a memory instead of the memory itself. She considers her paintings to be portraits but also refers to them as examples of a “flash” or “brain scan”; the work is meant to encapsulate the behind-the-scenes experience of making or having made a connection with a person (including imagined connections, or obsessions) rather than depicting the actual appearance or shape of the person. She accomplishes this by allowing herself to work quickly, without overthinking, and the colorful manifestations that emerge are stunning to see.
Lauren Bender, editor-in-chief