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

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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 # 54 — A Friend Never Says Goodbye

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A Friend Never Says Goodbye 

A friend is one who stands nearby.
When others go their way,
a friend arrives to stay,
to laugh with you or sometimes cry.
One who will hold your hand
and always understand,
a friend will never say goodbye.

                                                             © Freeda Baker Nichols

 

 

 

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL # 11

Banner Mountain Girl #11

On Banner Mountain, I stand looking at the house, now empty, with brush around it, deserted, falling down. I see the well still covered. I listen for sounds of laughter. Echoing from the past, the sounds ring in my heart. In a flash of memory, someone’s drawing water from the well—and as I look at the house, I wish I could be a child again and put my bare feet into a creek. I wish that I could feel the sun upon my back as I walk barefoot down a dusty road. That I could touch velvety moss in the woods and hear dry leaves crackling.

And draw water from the well.

I wish that I could hear the whippoorwills across the hollow on a warm night. And that I could sit on the front porch again with Mama, Daddy, my sister Yvonne and my brother Bill. Just sit there, not talking much. Then wander into the yard, trying to stay cool. Wash my feet in a pan of cold water and go into the house and go to bed. And see again the morning sun on the tall, thick yard grass, and look at hollyhocks that Mama planted beside the fence.

Draw water from the well.

Watch Mama milk Old Jerse, and later help Mama churn butter in an old-fashioned churn with a dash. Watch Daddy plow the fields. I wish I could once again trade a warm egg to the peddler for bubble gum. Meet Piggy, the mailman, at the mailbox to see what delightful cards, catalogs and letters he would bring. Read again the letters from my best friend, Inez, that Piggy delivered the same day by hand-canceling the three-cent stamp. See Mama sitting in the shade of the peach tree, shelling beans, then stopping to read a letter from my brother when he was overseas during the war.

I remember growing up, and, with Inez, Doris, and Lois Jean, watching for the boys to go by. I remember pie suppers and boys collecting money to buy the cake for the prettiest girl. I recall dinners on the ground, the taste of coconut pies. People visiting. Children playing and laughing. Time unhurried. I cannot be a child again, but I’m thankful for Banner Mountain – whippoorwills, picking cotton and drawing water from the well.

~© Freeda Baker Nichols

 

MY FIRST DATE

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My First Date

The Trent boys drove their dad’s old gray Ford truck
to town each Saturday to buy their goods
and groceries from Privitt’s Mercantile;
I worked there Saturdays from eight to four.
My eyes caught Cade the older of the two,
and I was plumb near dumbstruck lovesick blind
the way Cade’s sparkling eyes returned my gaze.
He caused my heart to summersault in flips,
my face to feel beet-red like flames of fire.
He handed me the cash for goods they bought
and turned to Luke, who now smiled wide enough
to show a row of teeth unmarked by Skoal.
Cade looked from me to him and said, “Here, Luke,
load up,” and quickly handed him a sack
of Idaho Irish, white potatoes.
“Naw, you load up,” Luke said to Cade and smiled
at me as though I were some beauty queen.
Luke stood nearby and watched me counting change
and grinned at me the entire, blessed time.
I checked my petticoat and nothing showed.
My face still hot, I took the dipper gourd
and dipped myself a drink from wooden pail.
Luke stepped up close; I trembled as he held
the bucket while I plunged the dipper down
into the water once more, offered him
a tasty sip this time. “Thank you,” he said
in tones as rich as mountain muscadines.
Cade blended somehow into burlap bags
and boxes, calico and denim bolts.
“Like to go see the picture show?” Luke asked,
the minute he and I were left alone.
“Well, yes,” I said, so eagerly I feared
he would recoil at any minute now.
He grinned again and I saw that his eyes
were bluer than his brother’s eyes, and he
was inches taller than his brother, Cade.
While movie actors talked, Luke held my hand.
As he drove home, I sat right next to him.
My ride in that old gray Ford logging truck
was fine as Cinderella’s in her coach.

© 2016 Freeda Baker Nichols

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My Page in Poems by Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas

Rockport, Massachusetts 2006Fantasy’s Friend

Setting my sail on a shimmering sea,
I invited you to skim with me.
Away from the shore to never-never land,
together we swept, hand in hand.
One day my hand unclasped your own,
I drifted then on the sea alone.
My heart became a desert trail
like waves of water, behind the sail,
which opened, then closed a shimmering plane
without you there to whisper my name.

I listen for your voice above the ocean’s roar.
If I could summon you back once more!
But I hear nothing and feel no breeze
to carry me over the shimmering seas,
which mirror your face in a puzzle-like shade
as I reflect on the error I’ve made.
How could I have been so blind
as to leave unlocked the door of my mind,
through which you escaped on the shimmering sea?
Oh, precious love, still sail with me.

© Copyright, Freeda Baker Nichols
From Poems by Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas, 1991

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