December 21, 2020 by The Citron Review
A few years ago for nine uncanny weeks I dated a man who worked nights and each morning while the sky turned pink and the Mourning Doves coo’d, I kissed him goodnight/goodmorning as the rest of the neighborhood was waking. In those early hours I also learned that my neighborhood has Inca Doves, which have an equally beautiful song.
Having no understanding of how they nest, I thought allowing one small nest on my roof was not a big deal. If they were reasonably quiet, if there was no visible destruction, they could have just that amount of space.
But this winter I learned how they broke the tile and created enough disarray that the roof above the garage must now be replaced. And yet very quiet they were as they built more nests and broke more tiles. Being home and more quiet myself this year has made me more observant about the spaces I share with animals.
As we read “Summer Storm” by Ashley Lewin and “Guide to Taking Care of My Dog Who Has Cancer and a Herniated Disc, But Whom I Brought to Paris Anyway” by Katie Roseau, we find people who have turned their attention to the danger and struggles of animals. The first story reveals a harrowing, outdoor attempt to protect an animal in danger, while the second story is humorously overprotective, mitigating the human grief about a dog’s illness. Both stories spoke to us because of their tenderness. Readers are dropped into each story, and in the second one, we face the inevitable – the loss of a beloved pet.
In “Punchline” by Albert Abonado, the author reflects on the racist punchlines that filled his childhood. He writes, “Your parents sent you to a high school school full of white boys like him where you learned how to be friends with them, how to share your Doritos with them on the bus, how to dislike the smell of dried fish and soy sauce.” Unflinching and full of sensory details, it’s the kind of essay I want to teach in my own classes.
Ronit Plank writes about violence and the fear of violence in “10 Tips for Walking Alone at Night,” “this is a story as inevitable as wolves who wait for fairytale maidens in the dark wood.” Like Lewin, the use of a list as a storytelling device keeps us focused on the author’s thought process and not just what is happening around her.
This issue also features two stories about place. “And Just Like That” by Amanda Gaines begins with a break-up and ends with a hope, “I looked at the blue mountains and blushing skyline and reminded myself to miss it. I breathed in hay and summertime. I prayed that someday I would be home enough for someone else.”
In “The Archaeologist,” Carlo Rey Lacsamana writes about how the pandemic has emptied our former gathering spaces. He tells us, “I stood there watching, overwhelmed by the unusual abandonment of this place now brooding like a ruin; and I, with mask and gloves on, felt like an archeologist hunting, excavating, trying to discover some relics to bring into light.” This essay beautifully captures the strangeness of these times.
JR and I hope that you enjoy these stories as much as we do.
Angela M. Brommel
Creative Nonfiction Editor
The Citron Review