March 20, 2019 by The Citron Review
At the end of a long winter, we often understandably long for spring.
But in our lust for relief from the ice we just as often forget how painful a spring thaw can be, a truth I’ve found inescapable since immigrating to Canada.
In South Georgia, where I was teaching before I met my Canadian spouse, springs were long luxurious things that began sometimes as early as February and gently deposited you months later in late May, tan-ready for Florida panhandle beaches.
In Newfoundland and Montréal I have found there can be moments of raw bliss in Spring—my wife shouting over the phone about the whales she could see coming into the bay, only recently freed from pack ice, to calve below our house last year, for instance—and there can also be moments of sheer, utter misery. In fact, my Newfoundland-born spouse often calls Spring misery, and on Newfoundland using that emotion to name an entire season feels all too appropriate: those rainy, windy, snowy, blizzardy, torturous island months waiting for summer to come.
In May of 2016 I staggered through the Newfoundland wind and rain, helping my wife, her sister, and her cousins carry their grandmother’s coffin to its final resting place. These grieving granddaughters all wore selected pieces of the bold jewelry their grandmother had worn in life, a tribute to her feminine defiance of small town norms, while their small children—their grandmother’s great-grandchildren—gazed at us struggling through that terrible rite of spring, wearing thick coats and rubber boots.
Here in Montréal my little boy and I wait impatiently for Parc Lafontaine to thaw out of the ice it feels permanently encased in, so that we can play, so that he can chase squirrels, and I can read Russian novels about death and existential crisis in the sun.
The creative nonfiction pieces we’ve chosen for this Spring issue are about pain, they are about grief, and they are, in a strange way, about rebirth. The sudden death of a mother, a woman interviewing grieving families about the unimaginable deaths of their children, a man struggling with his boy hood role in the death of other creatures, and a woman channeling the pain of others: all of these pieces are rooted in death, destruction, and grief.
But I can also say that I found the pieces hopeful, because the pieces were about confronting pain, and embracing the growth that comes with it. Perhaps they are, as the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins told us, struggling with the “I can no more,” and finding your way, however painfully, to the “I can/Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.” Even as we grieve and struggle with these writers, we rejoice in their honesty and their bravery.
Please enjoy our selections for the 2019 Spring Creative Nonfiction portion of The Citron Review.
Nathan R. Elliott
Creative Nonfiction Editor
The Citron Review