January 2014

In Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard conjures dawn as a sort of shipwreck. “These are morning matters,” she writes, “pictures you dream as the final wave heaves you up on the sand to the bright fight and the drying air.” Some mornings, sweet with anticipation and the white light of sunrise, are easier than this. But for most of us, waking hours do come by force; we peel ourselves from sleep’s cocoon to meet a day that demands endurance, buoyancy, and a healthy perspective on beginnings made with a constantly revised set of standards.

No matter who we are or where we are, we find ourselves at the mercy of how day breaks, and each of the nine essays presented in this inaugural issue of Proximity say as much, offering readers a layered, unqualified rendering of mornings spent in introspection, in observation, and at work.

Elicia Epstein greets the day from the hull of a tiny houseboat, and her photo essay captures the essence of morning in all its forms: first light, the scramble to greet the day, the sense that anything is possible. We are offered here an unusual perspective of what a wide horizon can do for morning’s clean slate.

In “Colorado Consolations,” Jenny Shank finds relief from Boulder, Colorado’s devastating floods, which ravaged her home, in the sunrise on the mountains and the promise of a new day, while Phil Jacobsen’s audio essay, “A Dispatch from McMurdo,” portrays a morning at work in McMurdo Station, Antarctica, where no one has seen the sun for three months — a compelling encounter marked with the joy of adventure and the sobering consequences of living in an isolated community.

From her apartment in New York City, Gail Segal spies a little girl and her oversized teddy bear in “The Swing.” At a playground on an unseasonably warm morning, the child must make a choice, a moment Segal grasps in this beautiful and insightful meditation on possibility.

In the summer of 1976, an unprecedented heat wave laid siege on England. Heather Gatley spent her mornings working at a “plant breeding station” and was thus transported to a different world, detailed here in “Summer of ’76.”

In “In the Eye of Morning,” Cheryl Merrill takes us from her home in North America into Botswana’s remote Okavango Delta, in the midst of a man-made herd of African Elephant. An excerpt of a larger work-in-progress, this personal essay brings us alongside Jabu, Marula, and Thembi — each orphans in their own right — as they walk the Delta at first light.

Ronnie Hess, a reporter in a morning newsroom, is met with surprise and an unlikely friendship in “Not Exactly the Graveyard Shift,” while Allison Gaskins gathers her strength to combat the day’s surprises — and its noise — in “Ordinary Mornings.” Here grouped as a mid-range contribution, Robin Chapman’s poems present morning in its most unsullied form: at home, in nature, as a childhood remembrance.

As Proximity’s editors, we are thrilled to launch this journal with the help of such talented writers, and we look forward to exploring place, space and connection with you each quarter. For more information about Proximity or to contribute to ISSUE TWO: CROSSROADS, click here.


Carrie Kilman * Towles Kintz * Traci Macnamara * Maggie Messitt