This month I’ve had stuck in my head the word shipwrecked. I don’t know what this association means. I walk my dog at night and am distracted by our shadows in the streetlights in a way that could be considered a kind of drowning; we wander and we find our way alternately. I see myself cast in the grass of neighboring yards as something lanky, something flat and angular and unidentifiable—whatever she is wearing does not matter and her hair exists merely as a crown or a halo upon her head. This shadow-self, this literal recognition of it, is perhaps like seeing one’s self underwater: this other version, this one that can breathe in the wet, this one that dives deeper than the other can ever know.
There is a feeling lately that transformation is possible, that transition is on the cusp of occurring: the extension of night, the leaves’ golden flame, the thinning veil. New encounters are coming: with self, with shadow, with darkness, with creation. With past lives—I mean past both in the sense of yesterday, of this lifetime, a reckoning with everyone I’ve been, and in the sense of infinity, of souls careening wildly through time and space and stars and night. I mean ghosts. I mean fantasies. I mean missed connections. I mean the conversations we have in dreams.
I, for instance, like to collect old photographs of strangers from antique malls. Often I don’t do anything with these photos, they exist merely as a weird interpretation of a family album, some invented portion of my history: here she is in the sun, here she is in the water, this woman whose name I do not know, this woman who still I have somehow found myself tethered to. I cannot claim to feel the spirits of these women. I cannot claim to give them any kind of peace. Often, about these women I do not even wonder—I want only for them as they are in these captured moments in black-and-white to be. And for them to be means they were, they were real, they were spinning they were smiling they were captured in frame staring at the ocean they were standing arm in arm with men who loved them or who would break their hearts.
Barthes writes in Camera Lucida of “a photograph’s punctum…that accident which pricks me (but also bruises me, is poignant to me).” There is always something about these women I collect that wounds me, something about their posture or their expression or their solitude—here, for now, in this one moment, I am witness to the nuances of an entire life, aware of every ounce of weight carried. Barthes, again: “to give examples of punctum is, in a certain fashion, to give myself up.”
What is in the air these days perhaps is surrender. To the change of the season and the perpetual waxing and waning of the moon. To all that feels natural and all that sneaks up on us. To harvesting what’s been sown and preparing to bring the houseplants back inside. To witnessing the past. To seeing my shadow and accepting her as both something other than and a part of me.
We are still accepting—and will be through January 15th—submissions for Issue 03 of The Champagne Room. All I can reveal about this process from behind the scenes is that we are enjoying reading what has come our way, and are growing excited about piecing together a whole set of new pieces. If you are thinking about submitting or know somebody who might be interested, please review our submissions guidelines, which can be found in full here and on our Submittable page.
Later this month, we will be sharing our conversation with Janet Ehrlich Colson, whose one-act eco-drama “Snails,” is featured in Issue 02. If you missed our virtual reading this summer, I highly recommend checking it out for many reasons, but particularly this month to hear Janet’s play performed—it’s a lot of fun. Janet’s thoughts on finding/resisting structure, shifting obsessions, and writing in a post-pandemic world will be available October 15th.
Love and Light,
Founder and Editor, The Champagne Room