Written on February 14, 2016:
Valentine’s Day. I’m sitting in my cramped dormitory room, taking shelter from the brutal cold outside, trying to figure out the best way to sell this collection of art, poetry, and prose to you. I even came up with a ringer of a headline: “Yes, Jon Snow. Winter is coming - but that might not be such a bad thing after all.”
I ditched that soon enough. I can’t bring myself to joke much about this issue.
Freshman year of college. They say new beginnings. A fresh start. But when all the pieces of this issue came together, and finally, we read them side by side, one after the other, we realized that the theme, overwhelmingly, was of loss. How much I must have projected onto this issue, I don’t know. Perhaps I used Blueshift to search for a form of kin, not of similar blood, but memory.
Sandra Meek writes: “the way I confused / tlhokafetse, died, for / tlhoafaletse, / missed.” Last Valentine’s Day, I planted my friend’s locket in my backyard. Remembered those I loved that would never come back. Either dead, or miles away, or had forgotten me. Like Michael in Albers’ “Michael Sins,” I learned a sinful temper, scolding a world that would not spit back what I wrongfully believed was owed to me.
I’m tired of loss. I’m angry at loss. And at first glance, that’s all you’ll gather from this issue. Loss and grief as those things we have known forever but will never fully accept. After “Bone Broth,” I began drowning in a clump of snow. After “How he made me disappear completely,” my body became a toy, lending itself to the world. By Mela’s third postcard in “Postcard Series,” I was so cold I considered lighting myself on fire. No place for fathers, or even ourselves.
But then, the question - why did I unconsciously pick so many pieces about loss? Maybe deep down, I knew I was missing something.
More than anything, this issue taught to me that there is something beautiful in defiance, even when that inevitable foe can never be beaten. Randall ends his “Self-Portrait as Derrick Rose’s Knee” so simply: “maybe i was beautiful.” Simple, yet it resonates. It teaches. In reading this issue, I hope you will find (as I have) that loss means more than pain. It means there was someone who drove too fast on the highways, who loved beaches but hated sand, who carved their initials everywhere so they would always be missed, who kissed you once then ran away. It means once, there was someone who existed.
Perhaps the theme of this issue is not loss, but the bravery of those who have faced lost. The ferocious task of remembering loved ones in spite of everything.
I believe someone, somewhere, sometime ago once said, to be afraid of what might come is to forget the present. And if not, then I’m saying it now. This issue will challenge you as it challenged me. To look past the bad times, and realize that it too can be transformed into something beautiful: “Texas comes to the party already smelling of Fireball and/cherry Coke, and I know we’re going to have fun."
Thank you, readers. Thank you, contributors. Thank you, submitters, staff, parents, everyone along the way. This is my most precious collection, one I will hold in my heart for years to come. Working this issue has been the best rollercoaster ‘round town. I can't wait for what you send us next.
Editor in Chief
The Blueshift Journal