Looking across a field blanketed in flowers. The image is in black and white, with a V cut through the center. Inside the V with the texture of a loose-knit blanket, small, pink blossoms stand in the foreground while distant hills soften the horizon.

Editor’s Note

Long before winter arrived, I was telling my friends—the other editors—that I wanted a January issue that was quiet. Somehow, they knew what I meant, but also, let me explain. This all started back in the early days of reading the queue, when it wasn’t so large and I came across a piece about unearthing an unexpected carrot. There are pieces that we don’t accept that linger with us; this piece was one of them. It offered a quiet epiphany. A realization that didn’t smack me in the face but sneaked in the back door and made itself at home.  

I wanted to gather pieces like that and bundle them into an issue for winter—a season of reflection, of undisturbed concentration. Pieces accumulated in our queue, and I looked for hushed revelation. This issue’s contributors sent us the tender of themselves, which is exactly what I love most about sharing art: how it makes both creators and consumers of it feel less alone, more understood even. Their whispers were urgent and fiercely personal. They constructed words around their fears and hopes and vulnerabilities and made me feel seen by allowing themselves to be seen. 

Among these writers, I hope you find a sense of knownness, a tender refrain. A chorus that gets stuck in your head that you can repeat to yourself again and again and realize you aren’t alone. 

Table of Contents

Every Train a LanternPoetryAmanda Kooser
Still LifePoetry Mia Herman
ParticlesFlash FictionCecilia Kennedy
Girl-ShapedFictionAbigail Oswald
Gender Is a Performance, DarlingPoetryJames Ambrose
Blue BoyFictionJack Morton
Salt, StarsPoetryJosiah Nelson
CrosswordInteractiveVast Editors