Welcome to Room‘s look at women and spirituality. I had been looking forward to working on this issue for a long time, but I didn’t really know what it might attract from writers. Spirituality is such an intensely personal topic that to try and define ahead of time what I was hoping for would have been very difficult, and would have placed limitations on what might or might not work in the issue.
Then the manuscripts started arriving. The first two came within a couple of days of each other: Emily McGiffin’s poem “Learning Swadeshi,” which opens this issue, and Casey Wolf’s “The Corpse Pose,” which closes it. With a beginning and an ending in my hands, I knew the process was safely on its way.
Now, months later, the issue is in all our hands. Our stunning cover is the work of noted Coast Salish artist Susan Point, who is also the subject of our interview, and Susan McCaslin touches on the idea of “sex-plus” in her essay on bridal mysticism which examines the Bible’s Song of Songs and the life of the sixteenth-century Spanish mystic Teresa of Avila.
The interior artwork is by Mélanie Rocan, Martha Jane Petersen, and Freda Pagani; we’ve chosen images of theirs that reveal the inner worlds of women in various stages of their lives. In the only creative non-fiction piece in this issue, Heidi Grogan looks at the spirituality of scars.
There are certain themes common to any discussion of spirituality. Poets Carolina Corcoran and Mary Christine Delea present two different views of God. Marina Blokker’s poem “Go North” brings us all the way to nature, and Lisa Shatzky’s focus is music. Her violin player “trembles, his blood / is in the wood / and the wood is on fire / and the fire is in your life.” Music is also the central image of Pamela Porter’s poem “Seeking and Finding.”
In the fiction of Kimberley Alcock, Fran Kimmel, and Holley Rubinsky, we meet three remarkable women, each of whom sees herself and her world quite differently from how those closest to her see her. Michele Serwatuk’s “My Eyes are Dim” tells the story of the inner strength that can come in the face of disaster and tragedy—in this case, the recent earthquake in Haiti.
The women in Marie-Claude Bourjon’s story “Finis Terra” and Carla MajPleger’s poem “Before the Snow” are both dealing with death, whether their own or a partner’s. And the child in M. E. Csamer’s “Nocturne” is facing himself “in the dark / in the place of beginning, / where self is latent.”
We have not forgotten the themes of bodywork and soulwork. They are represented here too in our RoomRecommends, BackRoom, and RoomMate.
We hope you enjoy the work in this issue as much as Brigid and I did in putting it together for you—and for ourselves also. As Michelle Barker says in her poem “Unanswered Prayer,” “Here come the honeybees / looking for sweetness / let them find you / and dance for joy.”
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