In Morning in the Burned House, the titular poem of her 1995 collection, Margaret Atwood writes of an uncanny return to a childhood home:
I can see the swirls in the oilcloth,
I can see the flaws in the glass,
those flares where the sun hits them.
I can't see my own arms and legs
or know if this is a trap or blessing,
finding myself back here, where everything
in this house has long been over,
kettle and mirror, spoon and bowl,
including my own body,
including the body I had then,
including the body I have now
as I sit at this morning table, alone and happy,
In this scene, an ominous mirage in the bright sunlight, the author’s flesh undergoes a change of state akin to that of the charred building, as if the two are somehow wedded. The decimated yet sharply familiar house is suspended, shimmering between the past and the present.
It is this sense of space, at once fragile and visceral, as something both materially delineated and psychically embedded that we seek to explore under the theme of Precarious Places. This topic felt especially pressing to us since in the past year, we have criss-crossed paths across the north Atlantic, moving homes, shedding skins and finding old ghosts in entirely new countries. There is much to be said about the places that contain us and the places we contain; about the searing union of memory and space capable of endowing objects, rooms and entire cities with a mystical charge. The eight texts in this issue wade through this haunted, aqueous landscape and come up against the queeziness of navigating new surroundings.
And so we bring you the first issue of What Fresh Witch Is This?—a feminist publishing platform attuned to the weird, the otherworldly and the uncertain.
- Alex & Claire