For years, I have used the same bookmark. It is a Joker playing card, probably taken from one of the several decks scattered throughout my house. It shows a clown in a yellow and red jumpsuit balancing on top of a spiral and grinning. He is wearing frills and pointy shoes, and his nose is a perfect red dot. The card is worn and darkened around the edges. I recently asked a friend for an index card to use as another bookmark. This person is a budding classicist, so he gave me one of his old flash cards from a course in ancient Greek. Written on one side of the card are Greek letters, unintelligible to me. Written on the other side, in plain English script, is Greetings!
These bookmarks are not unusual or particularly noteworthy objects, but they are sentimental to me because they are tied to my experiences of reading. Sometimes, life can get mired in a minutiae that literature has a unique power to sift away. As editor of Rappahannock Review, I am thrilled to present an eclectic selection of work that seeks to reveal what is often obscured by the simple routines of our daily lives. These are pieces that investigate the beautiful, the terrible, the perplexing, the depressing, and beyond.
In “The Box,” Greg Bottoms explores disturbing patterns of youth violence and psychopathy. The natural world is mysterious and ethereal in John Casteen’s “Wild Deer / Wild Horse,” while both Ruth Foley’s “Cleansing Flights” and Emily Vizzo’s “Sea Lion” examine nature’s cold dispassion. In “Form Fall,” Marco Wilkinson synthesizes concepts of materiality into a sweeping lyrical tapestry. Sara Henning’s “During the Tornado, I’m Thinking of Stars” and JC Bouchard’s “I Saw You” both use language as a fascinating puzzle for dealing with the fugue of love and loss. In “Pitcher,” William Cordeiro riffs on sexuality with humor and sonic skill. Chris Mink explores issues of poverty and community in “Mario’s Grocery Has No Cameras.” Regret and aging form the thematic foundations of John Francis Istel’s “Forked Roads.” Kim Garcia’s “The Dead Wait on the Living to Go on Living” muses upon death with a refreshing sense of linguistic and thematic playfulness. Karin C. Davidson infuses a simple morning routine with emotional wonder in “Waking.”
These pieces cover wide thematic and aesthetic territory, but they are singular in their attention to craft and their power of observation. I would like to give many thanks to our contributors, to the staff who made this issue possible, and to our readers old and new. Thank you for spending time with this work.