This issue begins with the speaker in Madison Jones's "A Prayer for Lethe," "saying good-morning in the rain," and offering an almost hypnotic incantation. The rain continues on San Francisco's streets in Mark Krieger's Danahy Prize story, "Scar," in which beauty, tenderness, and affection are fragile, and the possibility of change seems doubtful: "We can't help the way we are," a girl says to the boy she promises to "mother," though in the end he is left with "wounds too old and deep to close."
Like the art of Carol Mickett and Robert Stackhouse, much of the work in this issue explores phases of identity, considers the marks we leave upon the world, and questions permanence and change. Journalist J. Malcolm Garcia reflects on how—or whether—we accept, control, or avoid facing who we are or have become. In "My Middle Age," he contemplates his response to the passage of time through memories of a high school friend who seems content to stay where he is, in contrast to Garcia's own restless drive to witness history, achieved through multiple assignments in Afghanistan and Asia.
As they review the past, many of the writers in TR 45/46 also survey the natural world: for the speaker in George Ovitt's poem, "The End of Nature," "By middle age we understand that nature is tedious—"; but the daughter in Ann Keniston's "Coming of Age" finds relief from the illness at home by responding in writing to the particulars of earth and weather. The fifty-six-year-old Pennsylvania man on the run from his family in Ron Rindo's story, "Mysteria," feels nature's pull as well one "rainy Alabama afternoon." [End Page 1]
In a bee's passage through her suburban garden after days of rain, Caroline Sutton finds an apt image for a meditation on human behavior in "The Shadows of a Queen Bee," which explores identity through the dark phases of a marriage, the betrayals that are ignored until thrust into the light.
Readers are invited to consider how experiences scar us, and to ask how permanent those marks may be. Mark Beaver's essay, "Lone Baritone," describes an incident that could have scarred a vulnerable sixth-grader, but seems instead to have offered a moment of illumination and a retrospective release into humor. Rachel Hadas reminds us in "Aubade: The Nest," that taking turns with childcare, which could permanently scar a relationship, can be a gift, a nurturing home built in the face of one another's absence.
Tampa Review 45/46 comes full circle: from the call "of the private music at manic dawn" in the opening poem, through the reflections of the aging speaker in Marjorie Stelmach's "Autumn Dialogue." And there are epiphanies throughout, ways to imagine a continuously "opened wound" that does not scar in silence, but is endlessly expressed—by the mystic in prayer, the writer in words, the artist in color and light. [End Page 2]