A Note From the Editor:
My childhood playground had a metal slide that burned the bare skin of your legs as you slid down. It had a merry-go-round that sent many a child flying across the park. There was a hornet’s nest under the climbing gym, a four-foot-high balance beam, and a teeter totter that I’m pretty sure was built for adults. But (or maybe “so”) my favorite thing on the playground was the swing set. Every time my mother brought my siblings and me to the park, I’d make a beeline for the swings. I’d hoist myself on to the plastic black seat, ignore the burn of the hot metal chains on my hands, and start swinging my legs back and forth, pulling myself higher and higher. I loved the feeling of soaring high above the heads of the other kids, the breeze blowing through my hair as I swung. I felt like Superman. I was flying.
One day, I noticed a group of older kids jumping from the swings. I watched as they got higher and higher and then leapt off the swings and landed gracefully on their feet. I knew I had to try it. I swung my legs and pulled myself higher into the sky. Higher. Higher. Higher. Then, at peak height, I leapt.
And fell face-first into the mulch.
I got the wind knocked out of me and walked away with a couple of scrapes, a bruised knee, and shattered pride.
It was a harsh reminder that I wasn’t Superman. I was human.
Humans are messy. As Walt Whitman would put it, we are large; we contain multitudes. We are complex and contradictory at times. We’re not supermen and women, but that’s okay. We’re powerful anyway.
Issue 5.2 is full of pieces that are also human—pieces that are honest, that contain multitudes; pieces we can connect and empathize with, even if we can’t necessarily “relate” to them. (“Relatable” is a dangerous word. If we only read works that were “relatable,” how could we ever experience anything outside our own finite worlds?) From the story of a piano teacher aching to start over in Nora Almeida’s “Pianos,” to the mysterious and complex relationship between a boy and his father in Joyce Wilson-Young’s “Welcome to Avalon,” to the pain of the grieving couple in Tara Mae Mulroy’s poem “After the First Miscarriage,” the pieces in this issue deal with a range of themes and aesthetics, but they have one thing in common: they explore what it means to be human—to laugh, to mourn, to reflect, to regret, to hope, to dream, to be. Because being human isn’t always about soaring over the heads of others. Sometimes, being human means falling flat on your face with a mouthful of mulch.
I offer my thanks to the entire editorial team of the Rappahannock Review for all of the effort and care they poured into producing this issue. We are excited to share this wonderful collection with you, and we invite you in and hope you enjoy reading these pieces as much as we did.
—Christina Bloom, Editor in Chief