We all want to believe
in our future.
I keep coming back to that stunning couplet that ends Elane Gutterman’s poem, “Big Windows and a Patio to Catch the Light,” published in our current issue, Kelsey Review 35.3. This being our Spring issue, that couplet speaks with all the hopefulness that accompanies the season, but not without a hint of irony and melancholy. After all, the poem is about an elderly woman’s wish list for what she desires to have in her newly-designed home, which includes the most modern amenities and none of the typical accommodations that one would expect in the house of an eighty-four-year-old. The ending then, is both hopeful and sad: our human nature won’t let us stop hoping for the future, even when it is probable that we have only a short time left. The poignancy of this poem is shared with many of the other amazing works published in this issue.
We are lucky to have two poems from Yamini Pathak, the gorgeously described “Paper Birds of Prey” and “Shedding the Skin,” in which the speaker’s mother is in the process of getting rid of old photographs, urging the speaker to “let go.” The ensuing collage of photographic memories suggests that the speaker cannot let go of the past, or at least urgently resists doing so. It seems that in cleaning house (metaphorically or literally), the speaker’s mother is suggesting that to make way for the new we must let go of the old, but the poem also raises the question of whether that is even entirely possible. The speaker in Dave Vogtman’s poem, “Piss-Yellow Row Home,” inquires about the past in much the same way. While addressing the speaker’s childhood home and grasping at memories of the place, he wonders “what it’s like to be/ grounded, fully immersed in the geographical/ coordinates” where the house still stands after all these years. The answer to this question, of course, is that we will never know what it is like to remain unchanging and in the same place, because it is the nature of life to be constantly moving forward and transforming.
Indeed, transformation is a theme in this issue, present in Mason Bolton’s exquisitely crafted poem “When the Boy Ran for Freedom” and Sofia Bae’s short story, “Growing Up.” Bae is a young writer, new to these virtual pages, and it occurred to me while editing this issue that we have quite a few young(ish) writers here, a fortuitous connection to the season. Aaron Campbell, a recent graduate of Rider University, shares with us his story “Vampire Teeth,” which is full of twists and turns and humor and good old fashioned high school drama. Our art, as well, comes from a young artist, Corrina Creekmur, who shares with us her beautifully twilit photograph, “Sunflowers.” It is an honor to be able to publish a few of the up-and-coming generation of writers and artists in this issue.
Harvey Steinberg’s short story, “What’s to Become of Harold?” features a member of the younger generation, a boy named Harold Klompit, who ends up as both patient and pupil of the unique and funny Doctor Zalman Blott, who fumes that “correction [is] needed” after reading an article claiming young Americans are uneducated, uncultured, and unequipped to “keep the world together.” The story is a thought-provoking read, by turns strange and funny and dark, even if our own young writers and artists above disprove Dr. Blott’s thesis.
We have a great nonfiction piece in this issue, too: Rodney Richard’s “Bike Slide,” which is exciting but also (see our buzzword of the day above!) poignant. Trust me—read the piece to the end and tell me you don’t feel gutted by the story-within-the-story, which shows us just how short and precious life can be.
Life! That is what spring is about, isn’t it? New life, rebirth, the present moment. Our shortest poem in this issue may just speak to that idea most precisely. In Joseph Dresner’s “To Do Today,” the speaker asks, “If yesterday is like a dream/ and tomorrow like a vision,/ what shall I say about today?” The speaker of this poem has his own interpretation of what “today” means, but the question is one we can all ask and answer for ourselves. What can we say about today, the present moment in our lives, in our country, in the world? Today, friends, I hope you will read and enjoy this issue, brought to you from the minds and hearts of writers and artists from the larger Mercer-County area.
And as we go through this present moment in our world together, let’s not forget the words of Emily Dickinson, who said that hope—that “thing with feathers”—is “sweetest—in the Gale.”