By Valerie Horres

Color. It’s the first thing I noticed about our newest issue, Vol. 6.1 when I got a sneak peek. A marvelous teal embraces the material of this edition of Silk Road, hugging the white pages like azure sky wraps around the cloud on the cover. And, like a cloud coalesced from thousands of droplets of dew, this issue contains stories spun from spider webs of memory, and from imagination.

Bound within these pages are three stories of nonfiction, seventeen poems, six fiction pieces, and one interview. The pieces confront the complexity of being human, as do other writings in different literary magazines, yet these do so with a sort of mist-magic. A flickering, a surrealism, a flash. You do not know if the images were really ever there, or if they were conjured by your mind, but nonetheless the words stick there anyway. The echoes continue to sound deep within, never quite letting you go.

Ghosts wander in the whiteness between the lines like the halls of haunted mansion, they linger in time between turning the pages. Ghosts of agony, ghosts of woe, of misery, guilt, regret, lost hope, unrequited desire—all reverberate through this Winter/Spring issue of Silk Road. A phrase Josephine Ensign writes in her essay “Gone South” could be applied to the entire magazine: it is “full of an alchemy of agony and awe.”

These stories and poems tell a bitter tale: that our lives may never be perfect. They are too full of conflict, of drama. We get hurt. We feel pain. Yet, these stories provide relief from our ghosts: we do not simply have to fear that the dead remain, but we can find succor that echoes exist of the once-living. The stories in Silk Road allow us to see beauty in the horrific. The authors of the included pieces offer up glittering images and visions that transform simple suffering into something achingly meaningful. They feed our urge to grow something good out of the bad, just like Karin Lin-Greenberg’s narrator in her story “Weight”: “What can I do but water and wait and hope that something good will grow?” This is exactly what the stories do: provide us with hope. The authors summon the ghosts and the dark so we might further recognize the extraordinariness of the brightness of life and color. What they have written are the contacts so that we might see the teal sky and the misty cloud, the ghosts and the living, a little more clearly. What we now choose to look at with our unclouded eyes is up to us.

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