ANMLY #27 :: Nonfiction


There are two cherry trees dripping in pink flowers when I look out my front window these days. The elm and maple trees around them are thick with that baby-leaf lime color, sticky and unfurling, and the lawns are long with grasses that wait for their first trim of the season. Each spring, I become that boring but unabashed cliché—wandering astounded by the changing world before me, marveling at how quickly it went from the frozen emptiness into this tender green and pink and white and purple and yellow abundance. Three weeks ago, schools were cancelled for the snow and we couldn’t leave the house because of the billowing mountains of it.

And yet.

These pink trees before me now.

It reminds me of being pregnant, and how, after months of my body’s growing and stretching, I eventually felt as though I had always been pregnant and would always be pregnant, so impossible to grasp was this idea that I would have a daughter of my own, so impossible to feel the reality of the future that I was, nonetheless, rushing towards.

Across the street from my house now, on the other side of the apartment, is the school where Philando Castile worked before a police officer killed him. Two summers ago, we gathered there in protest and to demand justice. It was hot and sticky then, but we moved as though stuck inside some frozen winter, wanting to believe something different was possible, weighted by the burden of the current reality that we lived inside.

I’ve been thinking lately about how the audacity of committing to participation in creative acts like writing, mothering and working for social justice are a positioning of the self within the reality of the past and present and also within the imagined spaces of the future, where new, nearly unfathomable things are waiting, and how in these acts of creativity, we experience some kind of weird compression of time, when all the ways we understand time melt together into one, time-free moment. Free-floating. Like a mystery. And how these creative acts depend upon a willingness to enter uncertainty and meet it with the desire and willingness to make meaning of it.

The essays in this issue of Anomaly were chosen, in part, for the way they enter that mystery and uncertainty with bold abandon. In “The Good Ruin” Thomas Dai explores this collapse of time through the “nothingness and somethingness” of ruins. He wanders and wonders through his attraction to ruin, and the ways he is drawn to document and encounter them and what that might point towards. “It is not lost on me that most of the ruins I gravitate to qualify as broken homes, that the ruin I appear most drawn to is a domestic one, and thus a metaphor for the family as ruin. Yet I come from a home that remains nuclear…”

Lasya Gundlapudi’s essay “What Cleanses Us” moves like an extended prose poem, or, better yet, like the smoke of incense, curling upward, seeping through the cracks of time and memory and sensory remains, trying to pin the ephemeral down, but watching instead as it drifts away. “Outside, the faint scent of lavender as Mama calls to the goddess from the open door. Her slender fingers, lights flickering on in the veranda. ‘Dusk is a time of prayer. We must invite the goddess in like a tea-time guest, into a clean home.’”  

In “The Pill That Made Me A Poet,” Alexandria Peary traces the evolution of the way her body has been presented and handled by others with its “tray of birth defects,” and how she has experienced this as the self within that body. She lands, not surprisingly, in mystery. “I enjoy the equivalency of dressing the uncanny in the same Times New Roman as other content. I am reminding myself to notice these events in real time before logic sets in. This receptivity to the irrational takes leaving behind preconceived ideas, a willingness to engage with the unknown, a risk.”

I want to end on the idea of risk, to remember again how it is also a part of spring, those frosted, shivering leaves sprung too early, and of time collapsing into some new/old/not yet version of itself in these acts of creation on the page – these attempts at meaning making, the risk taken to enter the world and shape it, that green mystery unfurled and waiting.

Angela Pelster-Wiebe
Nonfiction Editor
26 December 2018