1996 (Volume 8)
When the present becomes past, the future must replace it, and it may be a future we choose or one we drift toward.
Tom Britten chronicles the painful transition of a town struggling with giving up an ethnic/racial mascot name for its baseball team. Carol Bly speaks of courage and the will to shape a humane future, actively fighting evil while one still has time to change its course, forestalling the belated regret of a Robert McNamara. Mary Corbin's "Risk Taker" very quietly suggests the tip in balance that it takes to step into the unknown. In Ginny Duncan's "My Name is Lenore," the title character turns her back on the past and moves into the unlit realm of the future. The speaker of Emily Shelton's "Jenny" begins her metamorphosis into someone more dangerous, more edgy, and, one senses, more "alive."
At times these transformations take on an aura of the surreal. Thus, the main in "Someone on the Stairs" feels his lapels become "the size of wings in Renaissance paintings, and in "Rolling Up Sidewalks" the bare, hard pavement becomes strangely flexible. The speaker in "Hill Sermon" is miraculously spared death, so that an ordinary junkheap becomes "a page of crumpled scripture." The woman in "Roots" whirls and dances in the rain to celebrate the end of drought. The child who almost drowns in "Okoboji Tale" by Maureen Haley knew "the mysteries of life and death" through her momentary intimacy with the lake.
It is out of such transformations of the ordinary that art (and perhaps life) is made. Here in the Midwest we are accustomed to the processes of metamorphosis and reclamation, living as we do in what many would consider an "ordinary" world. We hope this issue of The Briar Cliff Review will also effect a sort of transformation of its contents, as all things are altered when made part of a larger whole.
COVER: "Lead, South Dakota" / Marvel Kohlhoff Cox / watercolor