Just after midnight on March 3rd, an EF-3 tornado churned through an East Nashville neighborhood, killing five. The tornado missed the home of close friends, with two young children, by two blocks. A few months later, in my Connecticut home, I strapped bike helmets on my boys as we sheltered under a blanket during an Isaias-spawned tornado warning—my first ever.
As I write, deadly wildfires burn the Pacific Northwest, where two of our October authors live. Tropical storms and hurricanes (so many that we’re into the Greek alphabet) soak the Southeast, where our third author resides.
Why, in times of fire and flood, do we spend an hour hunting for a word, a day inside an idea, a weekend cutting and pasting… only to return to the original. Why make art now?
Recently, I came across the Nashville tornado again, in the beautiful “Specific Air” by Rebecca Titus. Titus writes that after the tornado, a friend, whose property was heavily damaged, sent her a text: Let’s document with art. Whenever there is daylight come. There are side streets.
I read those lines over and over. Three lines in a text by an unnamed friend of an author I don’t know who lives close to people I know well. I noted the lack of comma between “daylight” and “come” and read it like a prayer.
Our authors this month write of torrents and wild flora, fire and a hungry sea. Makers of our companion pieces show storms and middle-of-the-night fear, a flight along cello strings and a flower as seen by my six-year-old son.
Let’s continue to document. When our places are burning and flooding, let’s take the side streets if we have to, and make the art we need.
Suzanne Farrell Smith