Once in a while, not often enough, I clear (or ignore) everything and carve with words.
When the submission call went out for essays, fiction, and poetry inspired by Willa Cather’s My Antonia, where could I even begin? How to honor one of the first novels that struck my heart on multiple levels? I started by thinking essay, and its impact on me, but then I diverted to a new story instead.
Certain lines and images tantalized me. I drove west. I watched the sunset and thought about the vast land, the way the sun calls me sometimes to the plains.
Then came the questions, from what ifs and what’s next and (I hope) humanity and timeless lessons.
The noise of the clamoring crowd stole whatever words my mother whispered on the platform. Although twelve years old, nearly a man, I clung to her like a newborn child and cried. She shoved two food packets into my pockets, turned me around by my shoulders, and said, “. It’s time.”
She guided me forward through the throngs of the others boarding the transport from the Cutter Colony. I crammed myself into the car, still being pushed and pulled, but no longer by my mother’s hands. I don’t know when she let go, only that I stood alone between hundreds of strangers. I wished for the knowledge of what my mother whispered in those last moments, imagining her wisdom would comfort and strengthen me, and without which, I would remain forever frightened and weak.
The first two nights I slept standing. In Cutter Colony I was accustomed to crowds, now I undertook the long journey to the Middle Country to live with my grandmother. Over the years, Mother pointed to the lush, green images, sometimes shown in advertisements on the walls. She spoke of her youth in a land where there was room to move and to breathe. Yet, as people exited the transport along the way, my anxiety filled in the spaces. Where was I headed that humanity dare not continue? The transport passed over and through abandoned cities; shells of skylines dotted the horizon, until there were no more colonies, full or empty, and very few passengers remained.
I hope you hop over to the Willa Cather Review and check out the Spring Issue, 2019, and read on.
Buy a printed copy here: https://www.willacather.org/product-category/willa-cather-review
The entire issue flows with stories and poetry full of the most beautiful journeys, to and from heartbreak, really.