Letter from Editor Yasmin Kloth
When I can’t sleep, I often find myself staring at my bedroom ceiling, a shadow in the shape of a bear—claw outstretched—staring back at me. I can hear the small things—the way the ceiling fan chirps with each rotation, a tapping in the pipes, an early-morning train whistling down the hill. In the quiet spaces, I find I can hear and see more clearly.
The beauty of the poems in Issue Seven is their ability to find the quiet corners of their—and by extension our—overturned worlds. There is the world of despair found at the end of “Triple Bypass,” where the whisper of five words:
say my name
is surrounded by the quiet white space of the line break; where poet Kelly DuMar puts all her fear and sense of urgency. Or in John Cullen’s poem “The Promise,” where the daily motions of life on a farm provide the backdrop of a quiet life while mourning the loss of one’s mother:
The day is a lifetime when the pasture is green./I stand on the porch cradling this clay urn/my mother turned on her wheel.
There is the world of secrets, which simmer and sneak beneath our skin and on our tongues. The secrets we hide, but we know some people can see. Benjamin Goluboff spilling the secret of how Louis Armstrong played the typewriter as well as the trumpet. Katie Hamblen spilling the secret of a pregnancy, “two green fruits still green inside me.” Anna Burnett ending her poem “Collecting Things” with a spilled secret to a daughter about life and culture:
This story is always going to be
slightly different than you
would have wanted it to be.
And like a gentle pulse through the noise in our lives, there is the ongoing, everyday quiet of our natural world which hangs still like “a spider stringing anchor line,” in John Hicks’s poem “Faith”; which blows through like the “Night winds rustle in the trees/like spare change in the hand of God,” in Beth Peterson’s poem “Sunday Nights on the River”; which keeps time like the “ancient salt flats full of migrating flamingoes,” in Rick Swann’s poem “Watching a Sicilian Farmer Plant Patate.”
I want to thank Founding Editor Sandy for providing me the quiet space of this Issue’s Letter from the Editor. To my fellow editors—Christine, Shahe, Roseann, and Therese, reading and reviewing alongside you is pure joy. Your thoughtful comments have taught me how to challenge the words on the page, and to be challenged by them.
What the poems in this Issue have shown us is that we can’t process the noise in our lives without understanding the quiet vacuum created by grief, love, anger, loss, injustice, joy, and stillness. I know the bear-shaped shadow on my ceiling tells me this each time I wake in the night, as long as I take the time to listen.
Yasmin Mariam Kloth