A Story in the Moment of Fundamental Change by DM Denton
Covenant. An agreement between parties that is binding like a contract. It’s one of the metaphors used in the Christian and Jewish traditions regarding God’s relationship with and expectation of humankind. In a secular sense it can suggest a collective upholding of certain principals and beliefs—a ritual, even religious pledge and expectation of allegiance to a common, even exalted purpose.
In the bible, Covenant and Testament are used interchangeably. Mary Clark’s Covenant is a testament to how relationships form, flourish, are tested, fall apart, and, if they run deep enough, endure.
As the lives of three youths growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s on Florida’s Gulf Coast intersect, promises are made sub-consciously, at times devoutly. Commonality occurs because of being a certain age in a particular time and place, of sharing amusements, music, uncertainty and wonder, loss and discovery. Loyalty is the maturing of friendship seeded in companionship, threatened by struggle and change, and nurtured by empathy and necessity. Mary Clark’s nostalgic and sensitive offering of their story starts small, out of the inconspicuous, but grows larger and larger in its awareness of the world around them, paralleling very personal events with those that affect their country and the world. These were times I lived through—the civil rights movement, the cold war, JFK’s assassination—and, so, reminded me of how as a child my actual and imaginative life was affected by the decisions and actions of adults. Not always negatively, as one particular scene highlights. When Orchie sees a white man hit a black man who has walked onto a segregated beach and the white man is arrested, she experiences “…the thrill of being in the moment of fundamental change.” I can remember that feeling so well.
The story of Orchie, Red and Bobby is soothing and stark, amusing and disquieting, individualistic and altruistic as it reflects through hours, days, months and years. Mary Clark’s writing is eloquent, even as she ‘speaks’ of poverty and violence, devastation and betrayal. It is word-rich with beautiful sensory descriptions that set the scenes—the woods, the swamps, the beaches, the small town— where the young people spend their time; a blend of raw reality and dreaminess that moves the narrative beyond the simple alliance of children to an agreement that requires them to look into their consciences and hearts.
Read my review of Tally: An Intuitive Life by Mary Clark, published by All Things That Matter Press. Highly Recommended!