Letter From the Editor
Art by Kim Salac
There is an urban legend that, as a boy, George Washington damaged his father’s prized cherry tree with a hatchet. Upset, George’s father confronted him directly. As the story goes, young George replied, “I cannot tell a lie.” He confessed to chopping the tree.
Each time I hear that story, I picture the cherry tree in the front yard of my childhood home. Situated in the corner of a busy garden, the tree grew with me through the years. And, as they fell, its dainty petals graced the grass I grew up in. To me, the cherry tree represents comfort. So, I could never help but ask myself: what compelled little George to so carelessly wield his weapon?
I imagine the hatchet’s blade swinging backward, reflecting rosy speckles below as it glimmers in mid-March sun. Just as the cherry tree’s flesh braces for impact, a chill of iron slices into its fibrous trunk. Wounded, the bark lets out an exasperated sigh. Its cellulose cowers.
I wonder if George meant to harm the cherry tree. Perhaps he got carried away, mistaking the hungry cry of cardinal fledglings for an audience, egging him on. I’m partial to the promise of spring — its gift of warmth and its whispered “Welcome back” that bends the stems of unfurling tulips. But this doesn’t mean the harsh cold of winter is so quickly forgotten.
For this publication of Iris, our team explores the emotions that bridge the cusp of winter into spring. This time around, in its tales of everything from rejoice to resentment, Iris asserts that these months of oncoming warmth may be host to more than daffodils and delight. Our writers remind us, in fact, that sometimes the season births thorned honey-locust and anguish, too.
Chloe Lyda shares, I Write in the Open, Writing to All and None. Waiting impatiently for summer sun, she reflects on the transitions love endures — its beginnings sweet as peaches, its endings smudged in clay. Sadie Randall authors what shall i do, in which she questions the complex nature of familial nostalgia and, in her decision to “smile at the rain”, assigns new meaning to April showers. Then, in Poems that Hurt, Lexi Toufas shows that stark pain can indeed coexist alongside flip-flops and bird calls.
With her Iris writing debut, Kim Salac sends us Adrift. This screenplay, set in outer space, demonstrates a cycle beyond earthly seasons — that of birth and sacrifice. In Savoring My Cosmic Latte, Pasha McGuigan leans into uncertainty, and notices as joy mixes with sadness to form the color of the universe: “A warm, boring, in the middle beige”. Also finding peace in slightly-dulled sweetness, Juliana Callen explores The Effect of Valentine’s Day on Shortbread Cookies. With the methodology of a scientist, she finds of love and baking: “It is a messy procedure, but flawless”. Finally, Lulu Jastaniah brings us Signs of Life — through the coldest moments in life and winter, we can grasp tightly to a “terracotta truth” of hope.
I’d like to think little George was young and naive, oblivious to the cherry tree’s charm. Unaware of its beauty and strength, it's possible he simply made a mistake. But the more I reconsider, the more I realize hatchet-wielding George may have been onto something after all. In the wake of winter’s trials — as branches are weighed down by snow and people are weighed down by worry — catharsis presents itself in unexpected ways. A canvas for pent-up frustrations, I think the approaching season invites us to swing the hatchet. Break the bark. But leave the trunk standing, confess to the deed, and watch as the scarred cherry tree heals with time.