BY KATE GASKIN, POETRY EDITOR
Uncertainty. Illness. Grief. The world is shifting beneath our feet. As each day blurs into the next what we need more than ever is a panacea, a salve. Let us help you with that. Welcome to Issue 33 of The Adroit Journal, babies. We’re still here bringing you the finest writing and art there is. We’re still here reading your words as we drink coffee in our pajamas. We’re still here turning another year older beneath this wonderful old sun. This issue of Adroit is filled with ghostly echoes of pre-pandemic life, and in it we hope you can find clues about how to survive this new, starkly altered world.
In her nonfiction essay “Anastasia,” Maura Pellettieri reminds us of the acute pleasure of socializing in dimly-lit bars as two women tell each other half-truths and outright lies, all while eating “manchego, cornichons, marcona almonds, prosciutto and salami” filched from the bar where they work. In James Longenbach’s poem “Two People,” something as simple as lovers sitting in a restaurant sharing “A basket of bread, two round glasses of wine” is enough to tear at the heart. Longenbach ends this line with “How free they feel” and for a moment we feel free again too. In “Ode to Cousin John”, Raymond Antrobus explores the bittersweet privilege of standing “shoulder to shoulder / at our grandmother’s funeral.” In “Black Butterflies,” Jenny George brings comfort to the bereaved and grieving among us: “…This is what life does, it bears away / the damaged and the dead. Now she is in the world / in a new way, like a baby drained of all suffering.” The cartwheeling exuberance of Alyssa Proujansky’s short story “She Wants to Kill Your Animal Soul” disorients us pleasantly in a world that is currently unpleasantly disoriented, and Arthur Sze’s ode to outdoor spaces “Oasis” brings us back home, centered and refreshed.
In this issue we’re also celebrating the life, work, and mentorship of Lucie Brock-Broido with elegies by Joseph Fasano and Mark Wunderlich. In “The Lions of Orange County,” Fasano asks us to consider that “If this / is the world, it is more precious // lessened…” while in “Chateau on an Island in a Lake,” Wunderlich contemplates the sad but comforting way dreams can allow us to meet our loved ones again, if only for a while. I hope we will all be able to meet again someday, that everyone who has been separated can once again reunite in raucous bars and calm sanctuaries alike. In the meantime, I’d like to leave you with a couple lines from Hua Xi’s poem, aptly titled “The World,” which read like dispatches from a relatively normal past echoing prophetically into our strange present. “Maybe people you love are far away tonight,” Hua writes. “Somehow, you grow lonelier than the world that contains you. That is why you so want to be touched.”