Notes on the Creative Nonfiction Selections

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June 22, 2022 by The Citron Review

I’ve been spending a lot of time in my backyard garden. Early in spring I cleaned away winter’s debris, planted seeds, and repotted flagging plants. During the pandemic, during my necessary isolation, the garden has been a respite, a source of joy and relief. When the constant stream of news from the world felt (feels) overwhelming, when anxiety builds, I strip my thoughts and hands down to the most basic elements. I nurture and tend my plants and empty my mind, feeling tension drain into the hope that growing things offer. Hippocrates said “Nature itself is the best physician.” I believe it to be true. Our Creative Nonfiction selections for summer sew threads of nature and its healing power.

In “Mycteria americana”, Liesel Hamilton speaks about her anxiety and her observations of the wood stork in a beautifully braided essay. She weaves a parallel between her struggle to understand and manage her panic attacks and the bird’s efforts to establish a life far from its native habitat. “In between panic attacks, fragments of time that began to feel shorter and more unstable, I learned about birds.”

“What Comes to Mind When You Call Me A Goddess” by Michaella Thornton celebrates the real-life goddesses she has known. She eloquently describes family and friends whose lives have embodied the goddess image and why they deserve that designation, why it’s as appropriate for humans as it is for deities. She sets her flash essay amid beautifully bucolic imagery. “Sisters running into flowered sheets swaying in the breeze or deep into the woods, carefully under barbed-wire fences, abandoning rules and domesticity and adult supervision.”

Nicholas Howard gives us a meditative piece about writing, or attempting to, on a beautiful summer evening. It’s hard to write about writing when it’s not a craft essay but Nicholas accomplishes it so skillfully you hardly realize the act of writing is a component. Again, nature is very much present in “How To Not Write After Supper in the Summer” and I promise you will feel every sensation he describes therein. “Step up onto the deck. Notice the air now fully cool and open. A breeze passes, seeming to touch all the leaves woven into the co-authored canopy. They all come in on queue. No branch sits silent.”

In “Ingredients List: Crone”, Lori Barrett wraps life’s inevitabilities up in hermit crab form for our reading pleasure. Birthing, growing, and aging applies to humans as well as plants and Lori tells just how in her self-deprecating, humorous piece. “…sore shoulder (slouching while binge watching TV); tin of weed gummies in underwear drawer (5 mg); wine extract; kombucha extract;…”

“Extinguish” by Jared Povanda exquisitely shares the beauty and tragedy of nature when bird and human are thrown together and how, sometimes, the right thing is the hardest thing of all. “…because whose survival is guaranteed in this world anyway, as if sleeping birds and sleeping humans dream the same dreams…”

And, finally, “Cloudy” is a poignant story about a daughter’s ambivalence toward motherhood and how her own mother’s life influenced her views. It’s about what is perceived and what is true. Bethany Jarmul braids the majesty of cloud science with the cloudiness of the mother-daughter relationship and, subsequently, her own desires and decisions. “A cumulus cloud is what I want to be — to water sturdy oak trees, to cause wildflowers to bloom on hillsides, to fill rivers, to carve pathways through the earth, to shape my corner of the world.”

As the long days of summer stretch out before us, I hope you will find ways to allow nature to soothe and heal when the world becomes too much. It is always there, just waiting, and as Kahlil Gibran has written, “Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”

Charlotte Hamrick
Creative Nonfiction Editor
The Citron Review

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