Jaffrey, New Hampshire, Willa Cather’s Creative Intersection for My Àntonia, by MaxieJane Frazier
Jaffrey, New Hampshire, Willa Cather’s Creative Intersection for My Àntonia
Who can name the translation between a head and a heart and a hand?
Fastened fabric, finished folds. Holding the Great War, the great blizzard, the Aeneid, Peter and Pavel's Russian wolves, a shotgun cradled in violin hands, hired girls and elderflower bushes; the clickety clackety dare of a story: a burst of sunshine from the roots of a cellar—all of it in her hand.
Her hand holding a tent pole. The tent pole propping canvas. A fort. A hideaway. A retreat where she brings to life the past and a place half a continent away.
Half-mile wooded walk, she shed the Shattuck Inn for the sloping meadows of High Mowing. There the languorous view became a palimpsest for her inner view: “miles of copper-red grass,” a dismal dugout, the unforgiving sunlit-shadow addiction of the Nebraska Prairie.
Inked onto pages. A man’s voice scrawling from a woman’s hand. Her peaceful tent a mirror for thousands upon thousands of tents behind trenches, her book winding down as Verdun is winding up. The First World War leaching into her words as vilified images of dachshunds and badgers, a river sandbar is “No Man’s Land,” and even a plow in front of the setting sun becomes “heroic in size.”
The question comes down to this: is it true? Is it really happiness? To be dissolved into something complete and great?
MaxieJane Frazier is a military veteran and retired professor from the U.S. Air Force Academy where she was Senior Military Faculty and an Associate Professor of English. A Judge's Choice in the 2021 Bath Flash Fiction contest Snow Crow vol. 6., her work is in The Line Veterans Literary Review, CONSEQUENCE Magazine, #390 in 50 Give or Take and other places. MaxieJane holds an MFA from Bennington Writing Seminars and is an editor for MicroLit Almanac.
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