An Uncommon Love Story
I have suggested the notion before that the stories about where novels come from can be at least as interesting as the novels themselves. It was true for Suffer the Little Children and even more so for my latest work, a trilogy entitled Accidents of Birth. This trilogy was spawned through a character that was born from my need and a Mary Oliver poem. I was once again in one of those places we call darkness, where connection seems so tenuous and patience all but exhausted. My beloved husband ached for me, but never having traveled the path I took, he understandably could not imagine the pain or where it came from. Nor were there friends or family in my life to whom I could turn.
As I sat at my keyboard, the thought that emerged was, oh if I had even a memory of a mother who loved me unconditionally, the sort of love that wraps you up like a blanket, sits you in its lap and makes it clear it has all the time in the world for you… and then heals you. I had written chapter one in Book One: Where It Began, and in chapter 2 who stepped forward to take over the position of protagonist but a quirky, illiterate, yet discerning Black housekeeper, one, who I would come to learn, had been given a deathbed behest by her mother to carry on with the tradition her female lineage had carried for generations, that being to love the world.
Mary Oliver said it this way:
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect?
Let me keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium. The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind
and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over,
how it is that we live forever.
There stood Mrs. Imogene Ware, a woman who will cure what ails you, make you laugh as she talks to her cart horse or the mockingbirds on her way; and by her example, through the blistering events of the second half of the 20th century, show you what the path of love looks and feels like. She doesn’t care what color you are, or your age, or rank, or the meanness of your ways, you will be included in her world of love. Accidents of Birth is your story as well as mine and Miss Imogene’s for it refers to the greatest experience of happenstance to which we humans are subjected—where and to whom we are born. We have no choice in this. We have only to choose whether to play the hand or fold.
Very few of us ever had a Miss Imogene to light our lamp or wait for us in the dark, often at her very own peril. This trilogy is not just a story of love but also a place of love which you can revisit anytime you become confused or stymied. I go talk with Miss Imogene often and now you can too. Book One is being serialized on Venture Galleries, and I invite you to an experience of love you might not yet have ever known, but within a story of a reality you do know—living in American from the ’50s to the turn of the century in which we live now—only this time seeing it through the eyes of a Black woman who I promise you, you will come to love beyond imagining.
Read the episodes posted thus far on Venture Galleries.
Episodes are posted each Tuesday.
If you would like to be contacted when Book One is available,
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I would truly love to hear your comments of your experience of Miss Imogene.
This blog can be found under My Blogs: About Writing