In amends for our being away longer than we meant to be, we offer you more than usual: this issue contains eleven gorgeous, smart poems. They walk through broken and full hearts, through reality and expectation, through the societal and the personal. They range widely in their attempts to document the fullness of life.
If these poems center around any singular theme, though, it seems to be love, and its many iterations, particularly the growing pains of experiencing and discarding loves that don’t nourish both parties. Caitlin Cowan reminds us how it feels when an piece of old wisdom finally clicks: “And now I’m struck/ anew by Mama’s advice about browning beef: she warned / that just because it looked ready didn’t mean that it was." Hannah Landsberger and Sara Moore Wagner look for those figures swallowed up by their partners: Landsberger writes of Fanny Lindon, “It takes a strong observer to see / her as she embroiders tiny stitches by gas light, / and we are constantly surrounded by weak men,” and Wagner’s dead wife speaker details her return at her husband’s request, “I rose / up as if planted, up like a crocus / in the Spring. And you picked me / and placed me on the table.”
This is not to say all the voices and the hearts in this issue are bruised or misused. Carolyn Oliver’s ghazal takes an opposite stance on romance, constantly, lyrically calling for return: “My love, turn back when you reach the forest’s dark heart, / where the rain engraves our lost names in clay—go home.” Rebecca Hart Orlander’s speaker is the feisty Anne of Green Gables, who explores imagination and refutes its limits; Elizabeth Horner Turner’s speakers wander through a dystopian, government-less, leader-less land, and so on. These poems offer up enough voices and enough ideas to hopefully meet any reader halfway.
Listen, as we did while choosing these beautiful poems, to the art they chose to create in the face of longing or despair or even gratitude. The choice to create rather than just passively witness life is always an impressive one to us, and these poets took moments—small and large alike—and made them graceful, made them important. Thank them for this gift as we have by reading their poems with care. Love, Ruth & Tara Mae September 1st, 2019