Friday, August 26, 2011

Night Thinking

Night Thinking

by Nora B. Peevy

Up there in the Appalachian Mountains you see things are they truly are. Once you leave the mountain people the memory of their stories slowly vanishes as summer turns to fall and fall to winter. Blank spots develop like air bubbles on a photo negative, and unless you struggle every day to remember these people and their stories they will pass by you like fog on a fall night. I am as susceptible to this virus of forgetfulness as the others that traveled with me up the narrow and winding mountain roads. Remembering is not a conscious act, but an unconscious act like our breathing. We know that we must breathe to live, but we don't concentrate on it physically. Our bodies inhale and exhale sending oxygen through our blood vessels to our heart simultaneously while our mind wanders to mundane thoughts of the dry-cleaning we need to send out on Wednesday and the appointment we need to keep on Friday with the dentist. Sometimes I find myself trying hard in quiet moments, when I cannot sleep and the ticking of the grandfather clock in the room beside me invites thoughts of my childhood, to remember the mountain people's stories, how someday Ted's mountains across the way would be given to his little boy and then someday to his little boy's child and so on, so that the mountains would always be in his family's blood. And someday he would be buried on the smallest mountain far over to the left, he said. His father and his father's father were all buried in the small family graveyard marked with white wooden crosses. I looked at where Ted pointed across the horizon to the misty mountains purple in the afternoon sunlight, and I remember saying to myself, Nora, you must remember the mountain people and their homeland, the way the mountains cradle you in their bosom, the way they rise like giant humpback whales in the morning sunlight swirled in oceans of mist, and when you walk to the edge of the holler in the afternoon you can look down on the city spread out before you like tiny dollhouses.

I wrote this poem as part of my portfolio for entrance into the Creative Writing Masters program at UWM-Milwaukee in the late 90s. As I mentioned before in another post, I originally intended to focus on poetry, but found I loved fiction writing more.

Throughout high school and college, I volunteered with a group called The Appalachian Service Project. I traveled to Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky to repair homes for people in the mountains. It is one of the greatest experiences of my life and I learned so much about the culture of the Appalachian people and about myself. Those experiences made me the person I am today and I'd like to thank the people of the Appalachian Mountains and the other volunteers for giving me such a wonderful opportunity and teaching me so much. I am forever humbled by the experience.

While The Appalachian Service Project is a mission funded by the Methodist Church, the group  accepted my nonreligious friends and me as we were. I had the privilege of serving both as a youth volunteer and then as a youth leader.

If you enjoyed this entry, you might like to check out some other bloggers participating in The Weekend Creation Blog Hop, a hop supporting all forms of creativity.

As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!


shah said...

I've never had the honour of visiting the Appalanchian Mountains nor its people, but you paint a picture here, of wander. Your experience will stay with you for a life-time by the sounds of it. Even though memories might fade - a little thought will spring images back to mind. Such is the power of such adventures.

Thanks for sharing it with us at Weekend Creation! Shah. X

The Paper Princess said...

What a beautiful piece! Stirring!


Nora B. Peevy said...

Thank you. I hadn't looked at this one in awhile and enjoyed sharing it.

li said...

Sounds like you could dig through those memories and mine quite a few more stories and poetry!

Margaret said...

I got too busy with family and children and missed the Blog Hop, but hope to do so this weekend. This was a lovely memory and I think I will be making a short drive to Blowing Rock this weekend. I have never been there and it isn't far from where I live. I love Asheville and the Virginia towns too. Have you been to Blowing Rock?

Nora B. Peevy said...

Margaret, thank you for the compliment. No, I have not been to Blowing Rock. Most of my time was spent in small towns working. I did get to walk around a little bit, but not much. I had a lot of meetings, etc. in the evening after the day was over. I would love to go back just to sightsee in the future.

LisaWeidknecht said...

I love the way you write!!! Thanks for visiting me. I'm now following you too. Can't wait to read more.

Nora B. Peevy said...

Thanks, Lisa. I write what I feel like. For the past few years, I've been focusing my time on fiction and not poetry, but I might return to it sometime. I'll probably post more of my poems on here. And you will definitely see more of my fiction on here and updates in the future. I have a section linked at the top with my published writing. Most of it is free to read. Enjoy!