With this theme, we hoped our writers would explore the invisible ways disparate things connect if we just observe and notice—the way, maybe, separate trees whisper secretly to one another just a little underground, or how tiles in a mosaic sing in silent chorus to make a larger image. We hoped for work that makes connections we can’t see—constellations—out of things we wouldn’t expect—things we think are separate—and we asked our writers to draw those lines for us. And so, our writers did.
Here, on first glance, we see the invisible lines that connect our abstract fascinations: what is revealed to what is hidden, labor to land, nature to culture, life to death across time and distance, what happened then to what could have happened instead. Looking closer, though, the stars constellate also more concretely in an almost metaphoric cosmology: snails slide slowly across desire, sepsis spills into a pair of boxing gloves, a river gives birth to “clean needles and new lovers,” and God shares lamb with Khrushchev and a Gila monster. Through this lens of the constellatory, a punching bag becomes “a sedated animal awaiting slaughter” and a grandfather’s hands become bulldozers reaching through memory for a golden menorah. Our writers prove there are lines to connect it all, if we look and we imagine—the I, the you, and, as Isabelle Stillman puts it, “how different we are.” Thank you, writers, for showing it is that distance, distilled, that offers stars the chance to reach for one another.
A community is like a constellation too, connected by shared celestial vision, and that is certainly true of the editorial team that placed these pieces into shape—thank you team, for your star maps and astrolabes, for your faces pointed skyward.
And so Reader, here: A pile of stars. And an invitation: See what shapes you make. Trace what lines you find.
Eric Scot Tryon
Jen Grace Stewart
Senior Editorial Assistants