Notes on the Creative Nonfiction Selections

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September 23, 2020 by The Citron Review

When I moved across the street from a park eight years ago I was surprised by how loud it was. Sometimes after the park closes I can hear people playing basketball up the street. Early in the morning it was the tennis players. Then there was the ice cream truck and the endless stream of air filling bouncy houses for birthday parties. 

All these activities stopped as we began navigating safe/unsafe. This was not the quiet I once imagined, and it was unnerving. With time, from my porch after sunset I could hear the rhythmic sound of a single swing. Then came the sound of pedals as families with children circled the neighborhood. For a while the days at the park continued to be empty of people, but slowly the evenings marked their return.

Within the month while sitting in the dark binge-watching something I’ve already forgotten, it sounded like there was a DJ outside my door. For a moment I couldn’t process what was happening. The melody was familiar, but I couldn’t quite make out the song. I cracked open the door and there in the park was a group of women in party dresses socially distancing while dancing and singing to Dolly Parton’s “Here You Come Again.” I had to pretend to water the flowers in order to hear the rest of the song.

While we have looked for meaningful and safe ways to connect with others, the emphasis on  being physically distant has also activated internal spaces connected to ourselves and our histories. 

In Danica Li’s “In Between” and Jennifer Stewart Miller’s “Sandstone and Slate” and “A Few Notes on Marble,” we find ourselves in outdoor spaces of transformation and remembrance. Li writes, “I looked, not seeing, and then, all at once, I did.” With lush attention to detail, Li tells us the story of ensuring the safe transformation of Monarchs. Physical changes are present in Miller’s two short pieces beginning with a visit to the cemetery and ending with a lesson about marble tombstones with inscriptions “as difficult to read as the minds of those buried under them”.  

Travis Dahlke’s  “Car Sickness” tours the memory of family cars as the archives of childhood. He guides us, “Find the backseat pouches where you stuffed Goldfish. Video game strategy guides. Video store receipts.” In our final selection, “My Last Outing” by Anthony Varallo, a father shares his story marking a before and after moment of the pandemic. A story told with simplicity and ease, Varallo brings to our attention how much goes unsaid and must be negotiated internally as we try to return to what was before – and how to accept what is the present. 

Our stories, this fall, remind us that as social creatures we continue to seek out meaning and communion by connecting with nature, memory, and newly defined proximities. 


Angela M. Brommel
Editor-In-Chief, Poetry and
Creative Nonfiction Editor
The Citron Review


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