Anna Lea Jancewicz’s “The Pupil of an Eye” is the piece that stuck with me the most. Labeled as “hybrid,” it is certainly different than a straight-shoot fiction piece, though I admit I’m struggling with how it is defining itself. Nevertheless, it’s my favorite in the issue, and it starts quite clearly, “Think about your own eye.” The lists of items that could go into your pupil (“a hatpin with a pearl bead, a stray earring lost in the bedsheets”) are unsettling but are paired with images more fantastic—“a new galaxy could come out, like millions of horses ridden into a lather, starry white froth heaving with breath.” And the insight is not hard to miss:
The pupil, the core, the dark zero. The mouth and womb of all belief.
Guard it, guard it, our sages say. We plead. This most precious door. The hatch. They way in, the way out.William Bradley’s “Best Thing” also has my vote as he honestly displays both the best thing and the worst thing (“not fearing death”) about having cancer, as well as parts that are perceived as the worst, but are really not as bad (“Nausea and vomiting is part of the experience of being young.”) It’s not asking for sympathy, and it’s not overly sentimental, and it doesn’t focus on some of the main points other cancer narratives do—all reasons I felt particularly moved by this piece.
My favorite fiction is Julia Long’s “Tai Chi” in which “you” are in a class where everyone can do the advanced and fantastical moves but you—“you’re supposed to do a triple backflip . . . you’re supposed to levitate.” But then “I” decide to try it, and am brilliant at it, the best in all the land.
News anchors start coming to the house regularly. I am on TV a lot, demonstrating my amazing abilities. I can stretch my neck ten feet high. I can make my hair grow on command. I can fly for any amount of time. . . .
As the world’s number one tai chi practitioner I have a lot of wonderful experiences. I get to travel the world for a performance/speaking tour. I become disgustingly rich. My husband and I retire to Jamaica. I die happy. In my death bed I did not have an intrusive image of you.I was less impressed with the poetry in this issue, but that could just be because it isn’t my particular taste or style. The rest of it was still well worth it to me, and I’d encourage you to give this fresh, new journal a chance.