A f t e r w o r d 

 

 

It seems to take me the whole winter to remember the chores of autumn. When the snow finally melts in April, I head out to the yard, squat down in the mud and dead leaves, and start raking the garden.

 

Spring raking is a familiar task transformed, in part because the leaves are in waterlogged pieces. Their fall ashes coat the soil, concealing the shoots of new flowers. Under such circumstances, raking is a precise operation. No regular rake will do; a delicate instrument is required. Usually I resort to my hands, brushing the veined fragments of November away from those nubby, translucent bulbs of spring.

 

The shoots of new flowers are tiny and easy to overlook. They are pliable under my fingers. Resilient. I rake my hands across the ground and feel them bend—gelatin fingers of the garden, waiting quietly under last year’s decay.

 

I chose the work of these three poets, from among a large number of fine submissions to this issue, because they surprised and delighted me. Their words assemble into small but powerful forms, like green shoots under the melting snow. I am prompted to read them again. And then again. Finally, I can only sit back and reflect on the wonder of their design.

 

Of course, like all (or most … or some) good poetry, they rely on economy of language and density of imagery. Lauren Gordon can craft a three-word phrase as brief as it is tender as it is violent (and it is always all of these). Mary Buchinger reminds me how the little, neglected words of our language have their own music. They fall down the page like pebbles through piano wire. Sarah Jane Sloat is wry; she tells it slant. Her poems are on their way somewhere. They will cast you a sidelong glance and a half-smile, before passing on.

 

I love all these poems—in their brevity, potency, wit. I want to discover them all, again and again. They are worth finding.

 

Sara Biggs Chaney

April 2014

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