A Paper Lantern on the River

During the past year I learned to incant Leonardo da Vinci’s maxim that “a piece of art is never finished, only abandoned.” It’s a whisper behind the left ear, while I hold the printed final draft, until I utter it out loud under my breath. The thing, the piece, the carved and shaved shape has bones or it does not. It will stand, or it will not. I know when I am done with it. I know when I have worked the vein for what it will pay, and when it’s time to launch it or leave it.

To submit a piece, to the blind dark and elements, is to launch a paper lantern bearing a flickering candle into the current of a swollen river and watch it swirl, guttering, away. I am amazed if the lantern floats far enough to find someone to take it up downstream.

I am very pleased to have one wayward vessel selected by Cutbank Literary Journal to be recognized as a runner up in their Big Sky, Small Prose contest. Thank you to the team at the University of Montana, Editor-in-Chief Bryn Agnew, and contest judge Zach VandeZande for recovering “A Posture of Grace” from the open water.




Author: Kim K. McCrea

Kim K. McCrea worked for over 25 years as a Systems Analyst building out the internet of things before returning to letters. In 2017, Kim won the Treefort Wild West Prize for Creative Nonfiction and was named a finalist in both Proximity Magazine's Essay Prize competition and the Barry Lopez Creative Nonfiction Contest. Recently, her work was selected as runner up for Cutbank Literary Magazine's Big Sky, Short Prose contest. Kim lives in Eugene, Oregon, where she wrangles her Labrador in the rain and scouts for Great Blue Herons.

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