Lisa Williams’s “Becoming Again a Threshold” captures a feeling of being stretched over a decision, over time, over space—a sense I get from the poetry in this issue:
Though it is like nakedness
in an empty room, to linger
without choosing one, to linger
because you have to choose.
that rapid begin.
In Albert Abonado’s piece, “Grandfather as a Boy Beneath the Floor” waits until the Americans and their “mouths / full of serpents” leave. And in “Cyclops,” Tyler Mills reminds us that “The more a thing is investigated, / the more it burns. Light on paper.”
While most of the issue is poetry, the prose is where it really glimmers. Not having given octopi more than a second thought before, Anne Valente’s “Mollusk, Membrane, Human Heart” had the tiny octopus’s tentacles wrapped around my own heart in an instant. It is a heart wrenching story about a man named Walter whose job is to help raise octopi for research. His boss wants to illegally test on these babies to “find the origins of love”:
But they’re not ready yet. Walter dropped his briefcase and stared at the small octopus, their tentacles shuddering. They’re still babies.
All the better. Dr. Carver pulled the needle from the fishbowl. Now we can see how love begins.
While Dr. Carver tries to discover how love begins in an octopus, Walter finds love in the octopi, more love and attachment than he may at first have realized. The language, the story, and the imagery are gracefully done in this piece, instantly enthusing me share it with everyone I knew that appreciates a good read.
Also compelling was “The Plexiglas Lanes” by Michael Cooper in which two boys make a bet over who can sleep with the other’s mother first. This, of course, ruins their friendship but takes them on an adventure they didn’t expect, one involving a Chinese buffet, an old radio tower, and an alligator. That might sound like the set-up for a joke, but this story is worth much more than that, as is the whole issue.