But now I can relax and countdown the days with more reminiscences from "Storm's Story" from my old website that sadly passed away on Saturday.
Before I go on to the next post from my website, I have a confession. A story I've kept to myself. I left Vermont College in July 2002 with another piece of the mosaic that became Taken by Storm. I had a rough draft of a poem tucked in my files that recorded a sacred experience I had late one night in my tiny VC dorm room.
|Mary Hunt Raybould, my grandmother. Isn't she beautiful?|
When I was a child, Grandma Mary was a sick old lady in a nursing home or a mental hospital or another nursing home. We lived far away, so I didn't visit her often. But I inherited the family histories she'd gathered (maybe wrote) and loved her for passing all those pioneer stories down to me. I lived far away when she pass away and didn't get to attend her funeral.
As I thought about her and the talents I'd inherited from her, a vision of Grandma opened in my mind. Perfect. Glowing. Beautiful. She blessed my efforts and then left. Overwhelmed. I reached for paper and scribbled.
I no longer have the rough draft, but the poem survived and became Leesie's heart and soul. I built scenes and conversations and more scenes around that poem. For years it was the only poem in Taken by Storm. It was pivotal in Michael and Leesie's relationship. I decided Leesie had to be a poet, so I could incorporate my grandma poem into the story's mosaic--which, eventually, led me to collaging the entire manuscript and writing all of Leesie's narration in free verse poems.
Two years later I graduated from Vermont College just weeks after we'd moved from Canada to Switzerland. My family wasn't able to attend the ceremony. I walked across the stage to receive my degree while a VC faculty member read Leesie's words, "Happiness flowed out of her, filled me up. Tangible--like you could pour it from a pitcher." Tears filled my eyes. My Grandma Mary was with me again.
In honor of my Grandma Mary and the continuing inspiration she is to me, here is Leesie's grandma poem, "She Comes to Me," from Taken by Storm, Chapter 10, "Unfuddled."
She Comes to Me
I lie in darkness
spent of tears,
tired of sleep,
close to soft memories
alive in her fuzzy sweater
draped on my chair.
I wrap my heart
in pastel patchwork
pieced by her hand,
my tired mind, empty,
The night erupts into flowing
She comes to me,
a pure and shining presence,
knocking on my soul,
reveling in perfection,
spilling joy that
embraced my sorrow,
This summer I'm turning to my mother's story. After years of researching, I finally have the key to it. I'm excited and know my grandmother, from the other side, will be there when I need her again.