John and I spent a few stormy days on the Oregon Coast last week. My hope was to work on my new novel which I started almost a year ago after publishing CHIARA REFLECTIONS, poetry from the heart of Clare of Assisi. Still in the grip of poetry and also of my experience of writing my novel, WIDOW'S WALK, I easily fell into an intuitive style of composition. As soon as my creative function was convinced about my intention not to plan ahead--to have no outline, no sense of plot or theme, nothing but a kind of inner space, something awoke in me. She was an old woman, a hermit, with dreams and memories and a deep question about her life that she never had resolved.
At the coast I opened the document to the 172 pages I'd written in the past six months. So far, so good--even though I still didn't know quite where I was headed. I had followed through on the intuitive process and remain excited over where it had taken me from that first day in the springtime of 2019 to where I found myself and my fictional characters now at the beginning of 2020.
The old woman whose name turned out to be Ella, already in the first chapter wonders about her mother. She ponders...
She walked where land is flat. She wrapped her wind-blown hair in a kerchief, waiting out the war. She held my hand. The river emptied into Wood Lake at Four Mile Gap. We searched the beach for arrowheads and chunks of pottery left by the Originals. She told stories of olden days. We sat underneath a paper birch tree and she gazed out to water’s end where, in the evenings, sunlight turned to topaz then to garnet and made her cry. She drew up her knees and bent her forehead down to rest on them. Her sobs were flights of birds. “Mama, Mama,” emerged from me like the mewing of our banished cat. I used the wings of her birds to make my way inside her to investigate the branches of her soul. I opened the gates of her deep red heart and went inside where echoes of her sobs bounced off my mind like puff balls from milkweed. “I cannot, I can Not,” the milkweed puffs sang like baby birds born and trapped inside me. Her knees could no longer hold her head and all her body was a puppet when fingers release the strings. She collapsed and came apart around me. Oh!
Mother slept in her tears and with my most gentle finger I one by one gathered every drop and placed it on my tongue where it would become a part of me and stay through all my years.
Why did she cry? What could she not? Is there anyone…? No one? None? I could not and so I knew her at the very least that much. For years I hoped someone could, but then she began to keep a gun in the top drawer beside her bed and I knew.
Distance for her was absolute.
I know this: I will continue.
Christin Lore Weber