Infatuation fuels many of the women whose writing ignites our pages in this issue.
It's strange how we can suddenly be inexplicably drawn to another person—sometimes after only the most fleeting of meetings—to the point of becoming obsessed with possessing him or her.
More than a mental fixation, infatuation can be a physical sensation: euphoria, if the object of longing shares your feelings, anguish if your feelings aren't reciprocated. It's often an attraction based merely on physical attributes.
Another element of infatuation is that as abruptly as the flame can flare, it can flicker and go out. leaving you wondering just what all the fuss was about.
Almost half of our stories and poems in this issue centre on this strange sensation. In ''Blue," Faith Johnston's character. Heather, fantasizes about her daughter's doctor for weeks after taking her daughter in for a consultation. Heather is tantalized by his blue-green eyes— "Laser eyes—eyes so hot she thought she would melt"—and creates a whole imaginary scenario centred around him. But when Heather takes her daughter for a follow-up visit to the doctor, her feelings fall quietly away.
It is much the same for Jodi Lundgren's protagonist in "Damon: Journal of a Sublimation." Damon is a violinist with "wide blue eyes," who inspires passion in the narrator and she dwells on him for days. The character Damon is a complementary counterpart to the woman on our cover—as artist Marven Donati writes, the female body is a vehicle she uses to explore the human condition and-as a reminder of the frailty of desire— and to the poetry of Adrienne Ho, whose pianist can make "women swoon / at the first note sounded."
Then there is a woman who becomes obsessed with a belly dancer after see ing her once at a restaurant in "A Dry Season." And in "Whispering Fire in a Crowded Room." an impressionable college student falls for her professor, the authority figure who is a classic object of one-sided affection. The professor is also a priest and so is doubly desirable because he is forbidden fruit. "His impossibly green eyes would hold me with the necessary mix of desire and angst," writes Alana Ryan. This brilliant and sophisticated story illuminates the power of infatuation-how deeply a woman can become entranced with and sexually stimulated by her idea of someone else— and how quickly it can be diminished by a mere moment of harsh reality.
For a change of pace, several of the remaining pieces detail a different kind of emotion—the unconditional love of mother and daughter, grandmother and granddaughter. But even this most basic of loves can be complicated and painful. Poets Virginia Hines and Alison Pick hit somber notes in their explorations of, respectively, mother and grandmother. Their poems are full of sadness and suffer ing. In "Whipstock,” Barb Howard reveals the intimacy that's possible in a mother and daughter—and ghostly grandmother—relationship. These women have fun together. But even here there are strings attached.
Finally, some of our stories and poems defy the love or infatuation categorizations and are simply good writing. In Marjorie Kowalski Cole's "Aurora Borealis," Leslie is a professor on sabbatical who is searching for her true self in the cold late-night Alaskan sky. She is, in fact escaping all things beyond herself, and she is rejecting the lurid, messy fascination with men that characterizes infatuation: "Her own past those days when she willingly gave herself to a few men as an object, those days when she willingly mistook physical touch for connection, came back to her with its weird excitement and she was revolted."
So there is something for everyone between the covers of this issue of Room.