I often feel as though I am becoming a keyhole: the interstice of encounters and trespasses, inspecting, alert. A few days ago, on Hay Beach at Shelter Island, I stepped into the water for the first time. I had no expectations, only uncertainties; I have walked along beaches or seen them from afar. I think I’ve even been in love with water, or at least rapturously fascinated by it before even knowing it, touching it. But my body has been losing itself for some time— starving, refusing to bleed every month. In the water, however, I felt it hold its own for the first time. In the wide expanse of the water— the estranging, insupportable, unsustainable, transcending, intimidating, permeable, rhythmic element that it is— I felt the singularity of being witness for the first time. Small fishes floated around, seaweed wallowed against my ankles. Rocks and pebbles rubbed my feet. I did not experience loneliness, abandonment, anonymity or illegibility. It was the state of being a witness, and in freedom.
I’m thinking of the small life of this issue: from the time we launched our submissions period to this very day. Our editors, contributors and submitters from across the world have undergone tumultuous inner journeys. I must admit that during the worst moments of the past few months, shrouded and dead, I questioned why we publish this magazine, why people choose to write and submit to us. In hindsight, I think the presence of art and writing occupies a space like the sea: a necessary other, something to help us hold our own, transcendent but unreliable, unsustainable. “Pain is only pain with a name,” writes Kinshuk Gupta in his poem, ‘Case History of Pain.’ Perhaps that is the best way to put the experience of the past few months.
Publishing this issue, at least for me, doesn’t come without the guilt and grief of the past few months. Having something to do when the world is gathering losses is a preoccupation that wounds as much as it supports. Your works, dear contributors and readers, presented us with that challenge and allowed us to witness the world through your eyes, made us feel immersed in your language. From the 472 submissions we received, these are the nine works of writing that helped us survive, weather, hold on. That is a rare gift. As I am writing this, I am thinking of survival even in the presence of lack, in the absence of desire. Reading this issue, I am grateful for the hard work and hours put in by the editorial team, including several new staff members, and your trust in us. We hope you witness with us, beside us. Thank you so much. So much for standing, kneeling, holding on to something so we can learn to see, touch, emerge, love, desire and survive again.
Editor-in-Chief and Founder