Letter from the Editor: Ruptured Roots

Letter from the Editor: Ruptured Roots

Autumn Jefferson
Media Staff

Dear Beloved Reader,

Potted jasmines line the office of my father’s windowsill. They always have. I lean in close to get a better whiff of the small ivory florets sprinkled across velvety green. Sharp, sweet, yet with a soft sensuality—its freshness is addicting. 

My father didn’t always have a green thumb. He learned that through my mother.

My mother is a boisterous woman, well-reflected in the maximalist, lush overabundance of our front yard. Roses and magnolias—white, red, speckled with a blush of pink—crowd an exuberant leafy banana tree right outside my bedroom window. A curtain of vines spiral down from the bridge of our second floor, grazing the mahogany hardwood of our open living room. But that openness is well-stuffed with plenty of large potted plants, a variety more diverse than I could ever name or know in a lifetime.

Unlike my mother, my father—kind, serious, and ever an optimistic realist—has always had a small collection. Partially, because he spends his time tending to my mother’s ambitious flock, but also, I like to think he wants to pour some extra time and love into his jasmines. I always wondered, though, why not plant them in the garden out front? Wouldn’t it give them more space to flourish? Did the acidity of the soil threaten to infect and stunt their growth? Or were the thorns of my mother’s roses too predatory, too abrasive? 

Other times, I wonder if his hesitance is a product of his childhood. A son of uncertainty, a child of the diaspora, for him, to grow—to survive—often meant to leave. I know how terrifying it can be to root into the earth. To root means to stay. Too root means you are deciding to no longer flee. So for my father, keeping his jasmines tucked away on a protected windowsill means preservation. For my father knows all too well that sometimes when we are uprooted, our roots may rupture and we may wither. And perhaps he isn’t yet willing to risk their perishing.

But what happens when we do survive? What happens when we are planted in fertile soil? What if we not only survive, but thrive? To grow means to change and to take risks—a lesson that my father unknowingly champions. In his many lifetimes, he has grown and regrown, planted and replanted, a thousand times over. He is living proof that spring will always bloom again. 

As the rain washes away the grief of winter, perhaps this will be the spring that my father will finally be ready. Perhaps this will be the spring when he and I will finally carve out a small plot just for the jasmines. 

In this issue “Ruptured Roots,” as a young spring buds again, our writers are stretching their own roots and exploring what it means to be reborn after the splintering and the fracturing of a frozen winter. 

Our issue blooms with Susannah Baker’s poem “for evergreen,” an ode to her grandfather and their relationship to grief, change, and the trees. Ella Powell also wonders about the elastic potential that blooms after a relationship withers in her poem, “I, Budding Bloom.” In her profile "Creating Caring Community for Survivors through Transformative Justice" Caroline Silvera spotlights the strength that is born from vulnerability—even the smallest bud is tenacious. 

Miriella Jiffar too muses upon the resilience of culture and tradition in her piece, “ቡና : Coffee : Liquid Courage.” She thinks about how inheritance can be translated and passed down through generations, one cup at a time. Lindsey Smith also thinks about familial relationships with her short story, “On Seasons and Motherhood,” a reincarnation of the maternal mythology of Demeter and Persephone. What happens when we are deprived of what makes us flower and flourish? Are mothers always destined to wilt when their children leave the nest? 

Finally, our issue closes with Cheyenne Butler’s “Somebody Come Get Her, She’s Dancing like a Stripper.” In her piece, Cheyenne embraces her blossoming sensuality, as she lives out all of our dreams taking her first ever pole dancing class.

All my thanks goes to our wonderfully talented artists—Autumn Jefferson, Daphenie Joseph, and Judy Zhao—breezes of warm summer in a dull winter. Also, to the hard-working Mary, Miriella, Leigh Ann, Smritee, and the social media team. Even if I expressed all my gratitude, it would still be but a drop in an ocean of my thanks. 

Spring is finally here, my loves! Though as transient college students, we are often hesitant to take root in our larger Charlottesville community, I encourage you to take inspiration from our writers and actively seek out ways to attach yourself and grow from the people and relationships around you. Don’t be afraid to seek out the pleasure of rich soil! Perhaps we will discover untapped sources of joy, growth, and clarity that were previously concealed. What secrets are hidden beneath us that our roots have yet to reach?

With all my love,