Issue IV

Cover art: “Family Tree” by Beric Henderson

Cover art: “Family Tree” by Beric Henderson

As we read through submissions for this issue, Ellie, one of our editors, became pregnant. But even before we all knew her news, featuring Beric Henderson’s bright image of a woman and her womb on the cover of this issue made sense. Some might see pregnancy as a threshold into the domestic, into home and safety, not fitting for an issue themed “bewilder.” But this woman’s visible interior troubles that easy dismissal—she grows another life inside her, blooming and rooting, vining and wilding.

We picked this theme partly for the way the word “bewilder” begs us to break it into a command: be wilder. A pregnant woman cannot forget that her body is wild as the small child beginning inside her grows a shared organ, blunts her illusion of control, and abets desires. Pregnancy is a literal and unambiguous illustration of what many of our readers know: We are not separate from each other. Like Henderson’s image reminds us, we are inextricable from pollinators, gnarled trees, and rivers.

The writing and artwork we gathered helped us remember this too. To be bewildered is to be afraid sometimes, vulnerable to storms and other creatures’ hungers. You reminded us: the jaw pressure of a wolf is 1,500 pounds per square inch. The hawk will find its mouse. When you carve a fish, its eggs may spill like coins onto the forest floor. Coyotes will find them. This world is wild, and we are of this world. What we call environmental disaster includes us all: the great blue heron in an oil spill and the sister with breast cancer.

Long ago, to bewilder meant to lure into the wilds. Wilderness has signified woodlands and danger, all that is untamed or uncultivated. But our memory can also bewilder, wander beyond certainty. Sometimes, there is will beyond our control—the will of a child, a bee-hungry flower, a lynx. Sometimes we can give up trying to count the snow geese and let the world slide by without our exacting its progress.

Though some places, some experiences, may more easily convince us of our own wildness, no place is depraved of the capacity to bewilder. All our hearts flickered and fledged beneath our mothers’ hearts from almost nothing. And the empty sky above you now could become, suddenly, starlings: “a thousand dots, black against blue, a flock / of quickened hearts spilling in the open space . . .”

Poetry | Writing like trees, writing with trees | Meredith Stricker
Nonfiction | A Better Animal | Talley V. Kayser
Art | Erika Connor
Nonfiction | A Feather from the Crows | Erika Connor
Art | Susan Solomon
Poetry | Homestead | Ryler Dustin
Art | Paul Anthony Melhado
Poetry | At Dusk, in December | Ted Kooser
Fiction | Stolen | Erin Conway
Poetry | Boson Particles, Light Snow | Elizabeth Dodd
Art | Sarah Platenius
Nonfiction | Day 12 | Rebecca Stetson Werner
Art | Sarah Platenius
Nonfiction | The Space Between | Janine DeBaise
Poetry | For the Young | Shelby Newsom
Fiction | Stray Dogs | Emily Paskevics
Art | Htet T. San
Poetry | Various Companions | Lauren Camp
Nonfiction | Jaw Pressure | Nikki J. Kolb
Poetry | Driving Oklahoma Is Rarely Met with Much Excitement | Travis Truax
Art | Beric Henderson
Fiction | Plant a Human | Anthea Yip
Art | Beric Henderson
Nonfiction | Off-Base | Tara K. Shepersky
Poetry | Stopping by Bombay Hook | Dave Seter