Sometimes I forget that I have (or discount myself as if I have never) endured a crisis. I shouldn’t do that. Nobody should do that. Typically this happens when I try to compare myself directly to another person or group of people. The other day I was trying to think of the most physical pain I have ever suffered – constipation – and that’s honestly it. Nevertheless, the definition of crisis is very inclusive:
- a stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future event especially for better or for worse, is determined; turning point.
- a condition of instability or danger, as in social, economic, political, or international affairs, leading to a decisive change.
- a dramatic emotional or circumstantial upheaval in a person’s life.
And I do feel like I just overcame a bit of a crisis. Stretched between our last quarter’s issue and now, I’ve had a lot of hands on my left breast. There has been digging around, squeezing, saying things like: “Are you sure that’s not a rib?” (why, yes, it’s a tiny floating rib smack dab in the middle of my tit). There has also been: positioning, poking, plucking out a piece or five through a hollow needle (though I swear it was six). The cover to this issue was almost my mammogram. Featured near the surface, my own little peach pit, my innocent fibrous lump.
For many reasons, crisis is an idea that underlies this issue. For one reason, the idea is broad and we like that. Crisis invites observation and discussion. What is the crisis here? How do we react? What can you tell a person who has gone through a crisis? Will it help?
I’m not a good advice person. But I once heard someone say: “It’s a dog eat dog kind of world. You gotta push, kick, and gauge your way to the front of the line.” Is that good advice? I heard this from a man who was standing in a dog park. Afterwards I really thought about the gauging part. And what about that line up? I thought, I’m not a part of that. I walked away with my nose up. I was walking to go to work at a bank.
Last week I stopped at an intersection on Quinpool and Vernon. There was a man who stood with me, signalling to another man walking further down Quinpool Road. “There’s a store down there, where you can buy cigarettes.” He pointed down Vernon. The other man steadily pushed in the wrong direction. He was wearing a hospital gown under his winter coat and he had a walker. I caught up to him. He looked about forty. “There’s a store just across the streeet,” I said, “they sell videos but you can buy cigarettes too. Just after Freemans.” He said, “thanks doll,” which I hated. But he took my advice, turned around toward the right side of the street. I wondered about his situation, and if a cigarette would hinder or help.
My partner will sometimes romantically gesture, “I wonder what their life is like.” He will be looking up and into the lit window of a house with a turret, an attic, or a few hundred tiny apartment windows. We will often walk with our arms linked and I rest my head on his shoulder. I will laugh soft and graceful, and he says “what?” It’s not always that romantic.
Each piece of writing in this collection plays with that “what?” And while we didn’t marry a theme as part of our selection process, the issue that stands is filled with crises: death, aging, abuse, an ultimatum. Sure we are limited by our own experiences, and the varying crises we’ve encountered. But are we always limited by our own experiences?
— CG, poetry editor