Thursday, March 09, 2006

Book of Hours

The slim ivory fingers trembled as she put away the trowel. Her fingers ached these days.

She brushed them off on her worn skirt, pushed back the blue garden hat - her favourite - swung the long silver braid over one shoulder and stood back.

Replacing the barbary bushes, so scratchy, so cruel, had been the right thing.

Ivy wove like a green gown up the brick wall clear to the roof line. The spindle vine and climbing bittersweet spun over the lattices, the pillars, and above the arches, keeping the witches, the dark wyrds, away.

Sparrows and purple finches flitted like thoughts in the green sanctuary, safe from hungry crows. She heard them talk about it.

The climbing roses, all blushed and blood red, were particularly fine, she thought.

Bone meal worked wonders.

Their briars laced through the wrought iron gate, arched over the last flagstone walk, and wreathed the sun dial.

They smelled like all the lost summers since the world began.

She smiled. It was all too late, of course, but that didn't matter.

She walked to the fountain and washed away the rich earth that cloisonned her hands like crepe de chine.

Bending down, she patted the old green frog who dozed there among the flowering thyme at the fountain's base and straightened the tiny gold crown that had slipped down over one crinkled lid.

She picked a sprig of rosemary and went in to rest.

To sleep.

34 comments:

Tsavo Leone said...

It's the little details that bring this piece to life, things I can't even begin to put my finger on, making it all the more rich and evocative.

Your voice, as always, is in fine form m'lady. I do hope you'll honour us with more as time permits.

Bernita said...

Thank you, milor' Tsavo.
You encourage me - if only it could become a conscious act, I could replicate it more often.
It's like taping echoes carried by the wind.

Tsavo Leone said...

Interesting analogy - I always liken it to photographing a room full of butterflies, ever hopeful of capturing a Mona Lisa.

Savannah Jordan said...

Oh, Bernita. I like this too, and I am not a flora-and-fauna kind of gal. :) It has an almost airy, etheral feel to it, yet rich in elements that make it tangible to the mind.

I know you have my email addy... Could you send me copies?? I am hording up other's writings to read in my downtime.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Savannah. I think you're a very "fauna" type of girl, reading your lastblog post!
See the little envelope icon at the end of the post?
Click on it and type in your own e-mail and voila!

Savannah Jordan said...

Oo! You taught me a new trick, Bernita. Thanks. :)

Fauna just sounds so nice and dainty. I am not any of that. Well, maybe nice, if the occasion calls for it. ;)

jason evans said...

It's a pleasure seeing you stretch your legs, Bernita. These pieces are a great way to learn, aren't they?

Bernita said...

Much more reliable than relying on my tecno-fingers, Savannah.

In some ways, Jason, I find these a bit of a cheat. Good, bad or indifferent, they're easier than a regular post where one has to think.

For The Trees said...

Ah, Bernita, such an exquisite talent. Such wonderful words. A picture painted in minds all over the world, of those who merely log on to the Internet. Truly a feat beyond understanding to Samuel Morse and his compadres.

I, too, spin words to avoid writing thoughtful blog posts. Letting the Muse whip out words for me is far, far easier than thinking. I just write what She gives me to say.

But it's so much fun!

Thanks again for a wonderful story!

Bernita said...

Thank you, Trees dear, but you should avoid exaggeration!
I worry if I rely too much on cultural echoes, if there is any resonance with those brought up on Sesame Street and Bob the Builder, not Mother Goose and Grimm.

Carla said...

I like cultural echoes. If I get them as a reader I feel very pleased, and if I don't get them they sail right over my head. Missing them (as I often do with North American and popular TV cultural references) may mean I miss some of the richness in a piece, but it doesn't do me any harm (and eventually I might even work out the reference and learn something). Keep at it, and let the readers follow along in your wake and pick up what they will.

Anonymous said...

I particularly like this one, even though I avoid gardening like the plague.

As to your fret, don't. People who read for pleasure have generally picked up those cultural echoes.

Rick, anonymous because I'm on a new computer and forgot my Blogger password!

Bernita said...

Oh Carla, the popular TV cultural references leave me going "huh? Huh? Who?"

Thank you, Rick-Anon.
You're right, for the wrong reason, actually. I can't help it. They crowd. If it makes me marginal, I just have to live with that.

Patry Francis said...

Thoroughly enjoyed this. Thanks to Ric Marion for sending me here.

ivan said...

Tapping echoes carried by the wind.
Oh do I like that!
And it so accurately describes the short-story writing process. It's certainly how I feel when I try something like the conscious creative act. I'd rather garden, pull down screens--anything but the
composing. And if I force it, it's genearally not all that good.
Why is it that a woman, usually another writer, has to challenge me or kick my ass or something to get me going? Even in writing, I can't seem to get along without
them.
Muse?

Bernita said...

Thank you, Patry. Glad you stopped by. Ric is always kind.

Women don't like waste, Ivan.

Anonymous said...

That is a very calming piece, Bernita...not at all like Damie and John...gulp..LOL!

Almost melancoly, haunting...what kind of sleep is she going for?

Bernita said...

Wondered if I should have had her straighten that little gold crown on the old frogs head...

ivan said...

Trouble with us old toads that even in princely form, we just can't avoid sticking that long glued tongue out at delicous passing mayflies. Aint' got no class. I have pimples on my ...

How you couch a compliment!
Well I like your piece too.
Progress.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Hey Bernita....that anonymous is me! I don't know what happened! I'm signed in????

Bernita said...

Um...thank you, Ivan.

Sounded like you, Bonnie.
First my server went down, then I couldn't find my blog. Hijinks again, I suppose.
I changed the piece for you.

Gabriele C. said...

This is beautiful, too, and just a wee bit creepy.

Bone meal worked wonders.

I wonder what happened to her husband. But maybe I've read too many Mysteries lately. ;)

Bernita said...

Thank you, Gabriele!
I was thinking of certain godmothers, actually...

alexandra said...

I'm haunted.

Bernita said...

Are not we all, Alexandra?
Thank you.

R.J. Baker said...

"Trouble with us old toads"

Yep, a kiss, a lick, a shot, or a kcik in the ass. All motivations for the lecherous and demented male writer. Muse or no.

Sela Carsen said...

It's very reminiscent of one of my favorite authors, Robin McKinley. She has a similarly deft touch with rewoven fairy tales.

kmfrontain said...

"Trouble with us old toads that even in princely form, we just can't avoid sticking that long glued tongue out at delicous passing mayflies. Aint' got no class. I have pimples on my ..."

Big grin for Ivan. That was precious.

And muses being women, I'm on a forum where the women writers claim to have male muses. From what I've been reading, they seem to be pushier than the female variety.

"Nice prose, Bernita!" she hollers at the bottom of the pile.

ivan said...

Well, I'm sure Bernita would agree
that William Wordsworth was the furthest thing from a dirty old man.
Now the Marquis de Sade:
His poor wife.
It's like in that Beatle song, "Lucy and the Sky with Diamonds"; The girl with colitus goes by.

Ric said...

Late to the party, Long day folks.

Glad Patry got over here to see what a wonder you are, Bernita.

A gorgeous piece of work. A deft touch, and I particularly liked the king frog.

An excellent job, my dear.

Shesawriter said...

Lots of sensory details here, Bernita. :-)

Tanya

Gabriele C. said...

My muse is male.

A drunken Scot in a kilt.

Bernita said...

Thank you for stopping by, R.J. You know how I think about the muse fuse.
At times,though, there is something glimpsed at twilight, slipping through the shadows of the mind.

"Thank you, KM," she hollers from an adjoining well.

Nice compliment, Sela. Thank you.

Ric,(expanding and glowing like an irridescent balloon) what would I ever do without you?

I tend toward the visual, mostly though, Tanya.

Bernita said...

Just to make something plain.
I said "taping" as in recording equipment.
Not "tapping."
So plagaristic accusations can be stuffed.