Banner Mountain Girl # 69

From my journal: “It is raining very hard. The sky is dark and heavy with clouds full of water. It is a day in which I am usually lonely, but today my heart is filled with joy that is lasting over into this dark and rainy day.”

I am a writer and I must write. Often, I wonder what is new to write? Even if, like Hemingway, I should begin with one true sentence, how would I complete a work that I haven’t even thought about? It’s amazing how sometimes my words and phrases tumble over each other to crowd the page, and other times, the page remains blank because a long, dry spell has control of my sub-conscious. Writer’s block is for real from time to time in a writer’s life. And it’s to be expected. As far as I can tell, there’s no quick cure for it.

Journal entry: “I have no creative thoughts but I feel compelled to write something. Drove out to Banner Mountain. Enjoyed the peacefulness of the woods. I always like to go back there.”

Going back to Banner Mountain is like going back home–the place I left at the age of barely nineteen. On an autumn day following our wedding and honeymoon, my husband and I loaded our wedding gifts into the car he had borrowed from an Air Force buddy and we began our journey in life together. A couple of days later, we arrived at Smoky Hill Air Force Base out on the Kansas plains–the countryside so different from my beloved Banner Mountain, with its woodlands, its songbirds, goldfinch on hoeand its kind and gentle people. I would meet other wonderful people as we followed my husband’s military career. I would live in other states in the United States and in one foreign country before my husband retired. After his retirement we moved back to Arkansas, back to the Ozarks to live not very far from Banner Mountain.  © Freeda Baker Nichols

Banner Mt.

 

Banner Mountain Girl # 67 from my journal . . .

from my journal . . .

Dark clouds were forming in the west but Kimberly still sat quietly in the sand. As the waves rushed toward the shore, touched it, spraying a fine mist over her, she dug her toes into the warm grains of sand, recalling Whitman’s words the night they met.

“Look, Kimberly. Over there, above the shimmering sea.”

She followed the direction that he pointed and she saw the harvest moon, silver and bright, and she thrilled to the rich tone of Whitman’s voice as he said, “I’ll give you that moon.”

She wanted to laugh with him, but she couldn’t. Something prevented her from feeling the joy that was so much a part of Whitman. He was a penniless poet and yet he seemed to be happier than she and Tony.

She was engaged to Tony. He offered her love, security, and wealth.

“I’m sorry, Whitman,” she had replied that night. “I can’t accept the moon. I’m engaged to Tony.”

“Ah, yes,” Whitman said.

She had laughed and he had laughed and the joy she felt was much greater than any feeling she had shared with Tony.

She ended her engagement with Tony and after time went by, he met and married Sarah.

Kimberly saw Whitman almost every day and she expected him to propose to her but there was no mention of marriage although he claimed to love her dearly.

So dearly that he gave her the stars along with the moon and that made her happy in a way that Tony never had.

Time passed and Tony and Sarah had a child, a little girl and people said that Tony adored the baby and that they were a happy family.

Whitman wrote poetry and he continued to be penniless but his poetry spoke of love and laughter, the moon, the stars and the sea.

Kimberly waited and she cried when Whitman wasn’t with her.

One day he said, “It’s over.” And he kissed her gently and said goodbye. He left and her heart felt like crushed velvet in an old-time dime store.

“Don’t go! It’s soon!” Kimberly cried.

The dark clouds hovered closer. And herpexels-photo-556666.jpeg heart declared, “The pain that’s in goodbye cries, ‘Look up, Whitman, see the dark and brooding sky? Where, Whitman, where is the silver moon?'”

© Freeda Baker Nichols

 

Banner Mountain Girl # 63– Along the River – page 107

Along the River

Along the River

I brushed my hair the way I
always do and dressed in clothes
I wear to church and . . . funerals.
I attended a reception for the debut
of an anthology of contemporary
Arkansas poetry. I shook hands with
people—each person present was
strikingly different from the others.
Each one had arrived into this life
in much the same way–from his or her
mother’s womb. Some had been born
again, into a spiritual life, while others,
perhaps, hadn’t accepted God’s Grace.
My elbow didn’t touch another’s elbow
and yet . . . that’s why I was there.
I signed my autograph for the first
time and for a few more times.
A heart-felt poem, created long ago,
was brought to life on page 107
to live or die within the realm
of perception. And I became a poet
“Along the River.”

© Freeda Baker Nichols

Heart's Secret

 

 

 

 

 

 

Banner Mountain Girl # 48 — “A poem begins . . .”

“A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness . . . It finds the thought and the thought finds the words.”–Robert Frost

At the age of nine, I had not heard of Robert Frost when I wrote my first poem, there at Banner Mountain in the two room schoolhouse. But my first poem was about love for my mother. My words rhymed, and I’m sure I was following the teacher’s instructions when I penned my first masterpiece onto the page of that Big Chief tablet.

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But it would be many years before I set foot on my journey into writing and poetry. And now, I continue with writing and poetry because they are my destiny. The journey is still adventurous and lovely, sometimes frustrating but always satisfying. I agree with the quote by Robert Frost on how a poem begins. He created masterpieces!

~ Freeda Baker Nichols

 

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL # 30 “MAMA”

MAMA

Her name was Laura Sephrona. She was my mama. I am the sixth of her seven children. Four girls and three boys. Her grandchildren called her Granny.
She braided her black silken hair and wound it around and around her head. Her eyes were blue-bonnet gray. She was short and plumpish when I knew her. In a photo, on a yellowed postcard with crinkled corners, she was dressed in a white blouse, trimmed with tatted lace and a long, black cotton skirt with a small waistband. She wore high top lace-up leather shoes.
She fell in love with daddy the first time she looked into his blue eyes.
In spring, she tended to corn, okra, and other vegetables in the meadow garden. She stored fresh red, round tomatoes in a lard bucket and hung it on a prong of the cedar post that cornered the back porch. The tomatoes were juicy and good, she said, sprinkled with salt.
Her tanned, wrinkled fingers once picked soft gray-white feathers from ducks squawking in rhythm to each yank of snowy down. The feathers made their way into the pillows that we slept on at night.
Mama milked “Ole Jerse” and placed the fluffy foam on pink tongues of orphaned kittens.

Ole Jerse

Sometimes she doctored me and my siblings with castor oil and she said, “Swallow this. It tastes good with sugar on it.”
I said nothing to disagree with her opinion because the weathered oak bench we were sitting on was beneath Mama’s blooming peach tree.
Mama quilted the quilts for our beds with fingers tender from being stuck by the sharp needles.
She built a fire in the wood stove to cook our meals. She wore an apron made from flour sacks. She wrung the necks of chickens to prepare our Sunday dinners. Sometimes the preacher came for dinner and she always served fried chicken.
She taught her daughters how to become keepers of our homes. By following her example and with the grace of God, the four of us maintained stable homes.
She showed us the milky way and taught us nursery rhymes about starlight.

“Wish I may, wish I might
have the wish I wish tonight.”

She wrote in my diary that “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” Beside that, she added the Golden Rule. “Always do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
She taught us the Bible in many ways. By example and by a game she played with us by  asking what our dreams were and then opening up the worn leather cover of our family Bible to find these words “and it came to pass.”

And my dreams did “Come to pass.”

I became a writer, a wife, mother, grandmother and now a great grandmother.

My mama was the very best!  I loved her with all my heart and I cherish her memory!

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL#28 “Red Daylilies”

RED DAYLILIES

The house is empty now
and no one tends
the flowers, growing still
along the walk where once
I strolled with Mama.

My hand in hers, she walked
with me and talked about
the blue hydrangeas,
Phlox of pink,
daylilies red, and
golden black-eyed Susans,
dazzling at their peak
of color
in the sun.

I walk along the
silent footpath now,
where only shadows move.
I miss Mama.

© Freeda Baker Nichols

GOING HOME

GOING HOME

My plane is airborne, headed south.

Memories march in and out of my mind–

like dogface soldiers.

I’d said goodbye to Mama, then Daddy,

who bent to hug my three year old son

not very long ago.

Emotion struck Daddy like blows.

He straightened, then turned too late

to hide moist eyes.  His blue eyes had

laughed when I was my son’s age.

Youth disappears like the dandelion fuzz

on the face of the wind.

Adams Field is windy . . . but the

planes’ wheels touch the runway

in a smooth landing.

“No, son, Papa’s not here . . .

to meet us.”

Uncle Jim’s brown pickup needs washing.

“Your mama’s taking it bad, ” he tells me.

“Is the wake at the house?” I ask.

He nods. “Like your daddy wanted.”

At the doorway, someone takes my

little boy by the hand.

“The casket’s gray. I never saw Daddy

in a coat and tie before. He’s so cold-looking.

Mama? Mama!”

Her warm arms engulf me.

© 2017 Freeda Baker Nichols

Daddy