Veils and Gifts

At first glance I thought they were harem girls, veiled and mysterious. But the two half-veiled faces on the cover of this issue are “listening to the snow”—see the earmuffs?—they’re veiled only against the cold (the second face is wrapped around the back of the issue’s cover and isn’t visible on this website).

Veiled secrets and gifts permeate this winter issue. Veils (of expectations or fears, of cunning or deceit) conceal layers that can be peeled back to reveal a seed ready to germinate within, or a bedrock level of truth, or, often to our disappointment, a central lacuna. Sometimes it seems the layers never end, and we face the mysterious heart of being human.

In Annabel Lyon’s short story, “Mattie’s Husband,” the forced revelation of her brother-in-law’s secrets brings a successful professor into an unexpected proximity with an enigma of her own. This story offers a provocative look at the relationship between two sisters who at first glance could not be more unlike. Lyon’s is the third in a series of four works that Room was able to commission from well-known authors thanks to funding from Canadian Heritage’s Canada Magazine Fund, Support for Arts and Literary Magazines (SALM) program. Tricia Dower’s short story “Ashwin’s Rules” opens an imaginative window into the secret world of an autistic child (although that label is never used) who, after many years, is able to communicate thanks to the gift of his mother’s selflessly dedicated faith in him.

More exquisite poetry and thought-provoking prose await you in this issue than can be encompassed in this brief introduction. I hope you enjoy unveiling the hidden gifts within this issue.

COVER ARTIST’S STATEMENT

This was one of the final paintings done for a show entitled Listening to the River. My husband and I have a home on the banks of the Kettle River in Grand Forks, B.C., and our lives are imbued with the ‘river culture’ of the town. The seasons changed as I worked on the paintings for the show and with them the sounds of the river changed to the ‘sounds’ of snow. This painting is part of the permanent collection of the Grand Forks Art Gallery.

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