Welcome to Issue 9.2

L. I. Henley, The Incomplete Field Guide to Pain

A Note from the Editor:

I still remember the last day before the world as we knew it was turned completely upside down: Friday, March 13th, 2020. It was my little sister’s 13th birthday, and already my grandparents were growing uneasy about going out to eat. Still, my family went out to a little Italian place to celebrate, looking forward to what we thought would be an unexpected two-week vacation from school. I didn’t know then that would be the last day I’d spend in high school, the last time I’d go to a restaurant for months. If I had, maybe I would have paid more attention on that last day. Maybe I would have taken the time to say goodbye to all my teachers; maybe I would have savored every moment of that dinner, even though my grandfather was trying my every nerve. But I didn’t. In an instant, all of it was gone.

Now, more than two years later, our world is still in recovery. Slowly, students are returning to classrooms, restaurants reopening, mask mandates lifting. But just as we’ve started to creep back towards normal, war and political turmoil loom on the horizon, threatening the very idea that the world we knew could ever exist again. In a time so full of uncertainty, it’s no surprise that when we set out to create Issue 9.2 of the Rappahannock Review, we found ourselves drawn, again and again, to works that romanticize the mundane, remind us of the beauty inherent in the normal life we’ve lost. Our editors fell in love with pieces like “Red Rover” by Jessica Furtado, a poem that tackles love by focusing on the significance of ordinary moments rather than big milestones; “Frogs” by David Gillette, a story that lives and breathes in the ordinary moments that bring richness to small-town life; and “Aubade in a Southern College Town” by Shalini Rana, a poem that starts with a focus on the symphony of an everyday morning and spirals outwards to touch on issues of personal identity and race.

It was these pieces, and many more, that drew us in, those with the power to make us see the familiar through an entirely new light and to talk about the big-picture issues of human existence through the vehicle of the ordinary, the mundane. As you explore this issue, we invite you to navigate through the pieces in our curated reading order and to appreciate these works in dialogue with one another. As you read, we hope you will rediscover the joy in some of life’s smallest moments, just as we did.

Layla Barnes, Editor in Chief