In the classic book Frankenstein, the monster isn’t actually named Frankenstein. Frankenstein is the doctor; the monster is never given a name. Throughout the novel, he’s alternately “the monster,” “the creature,” or, simply, “it.” But what is a creature, exactly? The word (which, like most words, came to us through Latin, means “a thing created”) but we tend to use it to refer solely to animals—even though us humans are also created, by our parents and perhaps by a greater being beyond them.
In this issue, I found myself collecting stories, poems, and images about creatures—birds, butterflies, mountain cats, and jellyfish. And, in the process, I realized that we seem to turn to animals in our deepest, darkest moments, when we are contemplating the loss of someone we loved very much or wondering what our purpose is. This is an issue to match the season, with its short days and long, black nights.