by Kristin Gallagher
This August, after three semesters of seeing other humans only through Zoom squares, I went back to campus and discovered just how difficult it is to recognize people who are wearing masks. Prior to returning, I had spent much of the last eighteen months looking exactly like the image in Standing In My Living Room by Paddy McCabe—lots of angsty thought clouds, frustration at events unfolding on the national stage, and fear about a global pandemic.
The start of the new semester meant a new magazine issue, and we held genre meetings to review submissions. At one, poetry editor Madison Whatley noted a thread of grief throughout many of the poems in this issue. It shows up in the blackout poem, “wholly her own,” in which Melody Serra repurposes a newspaper article to create a line that notes how grief is “universal but achingly particular.” This line came back to me when I read contributor Gianna Russo’s “The Florida Room,” a poem about the loss of one mother that is simultaneously about our collective reckoning with death. Following this period of immense loss, what promises are we trying to fulfill to those who have passed on? How do we honor them while still managing to live?
As a reader, I have always sought the opportunity to escape, and I appreciate this issue’s contributors for the worlds they have created. Among the fiction selections are “The Burning,” Daniel M. Mendoza’s delicious social satire that unfolds at Motherclucker’s Chicken Shack (check out the accompanying artwork by Igor Zusev–it’s a perfect pairing!), and Courtney Clute’s “The Fermi Paradox,” a story with a protagonist who contemplates the possibility of belonging elsewhere in the universe. In creative nonfiction, Leah Claire Kaminski’s “What Gone Looks Like” explores an altered reality on the Seven Mile Bridge. I love this issue’s cover image “Deep in the Clouds” by Charles Chau for taking us far away from our living rooms, but most of the time, we exist somewhere between here and there.
I hope you enjoy this issue, wherever you are reading it.
Kristin Gallagher is a writer from New England. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Qu, The Seventh Wave, Lunch Ticket, and Saw Palm.
Paddy McCabe studied English and Creative Writing at Oberlin College where they also serialized comic strips in the school newspapers. They recently completed their English M.A. at Northeastern University, where they maintained a disciplinary focus in the graphic narrative. They will continue their studies this fall as a Ph.D. student at The Ohio State University.