We asked a random assortment of Western North Carolina women to
send us a description of themselves, written as if they were the protagonist
in a novel. We gave them a 150 word limit and sat back and watched the
stood on the gravel path, head down, keeping the rain off her glasses
with her cloak hood. There was dirt under her fingernails from the afternoon
gardening (onions! kale! tarragon!) and she slipped her hand out of
her pocket to see if she could rinse some of the muck off. Handy wearing
black, when you use your clothes as a hand-towel.
rain was slacking now and she heard drumming coming from the clearing
ahead. Almost time. Her mind wandered to the ongoing creation of the
perfect multifaith joke. She and her colleagues had a beginning—Moses,
Jesus and Cybele were on a magic carpet, headed for London to pick up
Muhammed, Quan Yin and Shiva—but were stuck there.
rain stopped and she walked into the circle, putting flowers on the
altar. Pulling her hood back, she turned her face to the north and waited.
women know what I mean when I say my life is about finding balance in
change. The home of my childhood was one of routine. In that routine,
each day as the one before, there was free space. Time for wonder, climbing
trees, pick-up games, and swim meets. The adolescent me was a competitive
distance swimmer. In the first time of change, free space evaporated.
I became a mom. The discipline of distance swimming helped me to cope
with the two professions. Certified public accounting. Soccer mom. My
home was scheduled. Scheduling is different from routine each scheduled
day different from the next. A youth group filled Sunday with river
runs and horses is no rest. Boys on four sides of Asheville at once.
They grew up to herald another change. I’m now a swimming accounting
granny. Granny’s home has some new things. Free space for granddaddy.
Deep chairs by windows with blankets and books. My recently tuned piano.
His restored violin. Hiking trails wander up a rock face mountain. I’m
using those trails discovering the strong and peaceful temperaments
of the families that led to me and wondering what the future will bring.
pressure and needle like chest pains urge Kathy’s sluggish brainfrom
the unconscious realm of a Saturday morning sleep. The fat black cat
kneads, purrs and crashes his head into hers. She pulls Satchmo off
her chest, scratches his chin, ears, rubs his belly, and whispers promises
of food. Sophie, her curly fur ball, barks and displaces Satchmo. A
lavender laced breeze filters through the screen, reminding her that
there is dirt to dig, flowers to plant and mulch to spread. Gentle tapping
from the next room assures hers that her sweet partner isalready up
and sending joy through cyberspace. She contemplates a morning of coffee
and cards, then yard sales and yard work. Her throat constricts as she
realizes that this is the sacred stuff of her life.
licks her face clearing the tears of gratitude. Kathy Robinson, Asheville
She saw herself as the heroine of her own literary affairs du coeurs.
She’d had three husbands, an interdimensional relationship with
a famous Russian, a liaison with a younger lover doing time in the federal
penitentiary at Butner. Her most recent passion was with a man who’d
left due to fear of his own magnificence. Drama spilled into poetry,
stories, novels. It was her identity, her inspiration. She wore mostly
black. At fifty-nine, however, she became too wise for sorry stories.
Angst loosened its narrative grip. She stopped coloring her hair, let
it wind free in wild silver curls. She smiled a lot. For the first time,
she experimented with the possibilities of yellow. But then, sitting
in front of the keyboard on this almost spring morning, chickadees trilling
in the bare branches of a sycamore, she wondered what in the world she
could write about now that she was happy.
Rogers, Asheville, NC
was certain only that her way was the correct way in which to move through
life. As a result of this, Emily Acheson found companionship in persons
far beyond her own age of six-teen. She found solace in that which did
not appease your typical teenager. She wrote poetry detailing her unique
view of the world, but kept it secret. She mused over the possible reasons
why one might wish to fall in love, and found no longing in her self.
Emily had forced an illusion of maturity over her being that frightened
awayfantasy and replaced it with a need for truth. A truth can be a
most unpleasant and shocking way offorming words. Yet Emily found that
through truth in her words, no matter the vagueness of those words,
she was able to distinguish between her friends and those who wished
to bask in her clarity.
solitary Me stays hunched over my computer in silence, save for the
clicking of keys. I like the absence of what I don’t know I’ve
missed. From my writing room on this mountain—to the left, crowds
of trees; to the right, rocks, boulders, tangle of woods; and the middle
distance, the Smoky Mountains—nature, the so-real part of me.
The surreal part is this swollen world of humans rushing about Doing
Things. They create poignantly noisy footfalls across Earth, fast, faster,
fastest. I imagine the ant farm my brother had as a kid, where I’d
watch the ants’ lives through the glass, and they had no awareness
of me as necessary to their existence, only my giant head hovering outside
their universe. Now still, I stare through the pane, and when I press
my finger to the glass, I can’t feel anything, and no one can
Magendie, Maggie Valley
phone is ringing; the cell phone is ringing, and she’s on line
responding to 54 messages in her inbox. Her mind reviews next week’s
tasks: packing to move into a new home; attacking piles of papers spilling
from her desk onto the floor that have needed attention for weeks, flashing
on: Mercury is retrograde, good; producing a band’s concert that
demands steady energy; editing a manuscript for welcome money; and there’s
the continuous hum of her Wednesday evening women’s writing circle.
Does this really look like her life? Something is missing here. It must
be those moments of delicious downtime, the AHA! at the sight of crocus
heads and daffodils, the warm bleed-through of a first false Spring;
a surprise gift in the mail; and there’s optimism, that all is
perfect, that what’s here is gratefully held, that an unseen hand
is directing it all. She sighs, remembers, and moves into her day.
Shebar, RN, MS, Reiki Master
After I Died
by Barbara Marlowe
My closest friends cleaned the house. They were surprised at the dust.
A lingering trace of Must De Cartier gave a sense of faded elegance.
They smelled the soap I bought in Israel. Found 900 dollars stashed
in a pair of green and cracked elf shoes. Laughed at the vibrator in
the drawer next to the bed. Cried when they found adult pampers hidden
under a pile of clothes. They argued over the Huichol Indian mask and
the African tapestry of dark brown and beige rough fiber. Divided up
the shawls. Left the jewelry box for my nieces. Sent the rhinestone
hairpins to the funeral home, so my ashes would sparkle. They found
letters addressed to children I never had and all the poems. They disagreed
about the headstone: “She Loved to Dance” or “She
Never Reached Her Potential - Her Boundaries Kept Expanding”.
It was just as I imagined.