Turning the Pages Back to Look Forward – Mother’s Day 2015

As I embark upon a new major writing project, and with Mother’s Day (in the US and Canada) this Sunday, I am re-posting the prose/poem below (from 2013); for it is my mother, June, who sparked my over fifty year passion for reading and writing with these evocative editions of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre by Ellis Bell and  Currer Bell (Emily and Charlotte Brontë) respectively, illustrated with woodcuts by Fritz Eichenberg.

Wuthering_Cover1 Fritz-Eichenberg-Jane-Eyre-Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, there was another Brontë sister and author – Acton Bell. Which brings me to the subject of the fiction I’m working on now, the first novelette in a series of three featuring obscure/undervalued women writers (or, at least, that is the plan) …

“She, however, attentively watched my looks, and her artist’s pride was gratified, no doubt, to read my heartfelt admiration in my eyes.”
Anne Brontë, from The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Haworth Parsonage

Bronte Parsonage, Haworth, West Yorkshire, England. Painted in the 1970’s. Copyright 2013 by DM Denton

 

Oh, those early years when all my shyness wanted was to go home to you. You trusted me on sick days and walked miles on your lunch hour to bring me paper dolls and make sure I was safe.

I was the child you wanted me to be.

Copyright 2012 by JM DiGiacomo

Copyright 2012 by Diane’s mom, June

You gave me many gifts, like the gods and goddesses gave Pandora: a sense of beauty, charm, music, curiosity and persuasion. In particular there was a book, large and beautifully bound, its writing in columns and essence carved in wood.

You were as naïve as I was.

For it was also a box of unknowns, like Pandora’s, that unleashed more than either of us bargained for. I preferred the version of the myth that claimed good things were allowed to escape. All except for one.

We never lost hope.

You put the faraway in my hands, so how could I not want to go there? Of course, you meant for me to travel pages not miles.

You said you would never forgive me.

How many months we didn’t speak; how many years we paid dearly for conversations in such different time zones, trying to being ordinary when it was all so impossible.

We were both alone with our mistakes.

I never thought it would be that difficult to be away from you. My youth was lost, not to romantic discontent but missing what was true.  

How could you ever forgive me?

Perhaps you did a little. When you traveled as I did, because I did: over the sea, to another country, to places you had and hadn’t visited. You walked up the hill, heard your heels on the cobblestones and voices of the dead, inhaled the mist, saw the parsonage, the windswept trees and moors, and turned the pages back.

I didn’t see if your eyes sparkled, but I like to believe they did.

Drawing of Anne Brontë by Charlotte Brontë

Drawing of Anne Brontë by Charlotte Brontë

“There is such a thing as looking through a person’s eyes into the heart, and learning more of the height, and breadth, and depth of another’s soul in one hour than it might take you a lifetime to discover, if he or she were not disposed to reveal it, or if you had not the sense to understand it.”
Anne Brontë, from The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

It’s very early days, but here’s a little teaser from my WIP, tentatively titled Without the Veil Between:

Anne was once again in Scarborough, as comfortable as the Robinsons on St. Nicholas Cliff and the Spa side of town, easily settled in lodgings she valued, not because of their elegance and prestige, connection to the Assembly Rooms hosting concerts and balls, or proximity to an excellent library and pleasant walkways, but for the magnificent view of the shimmering shifting South Bay. She especially loved the outlook to her right: in the opposite direction from the harbor and arcades, down along a stretch of sand little disturbed except by the tides and beyond a beautifully barren headland where the sea met the sky and she might unleash her nature unselfconsciously like Emily looking out on the moors where the world waited for her to leave it.

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Rendezvous in Scarborough

Here’s another offering for the lead up to Valentines Day.  It is a repost that has been retitled and revised a little.

Victorian Lady Walking on Beach0001

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

The sun was shining through the blind, and I thought how pleasant it would be to pass through the quiet town and take a solitary ramble on the sands while the world was in bed.
(from ‘ Agnes Grey’, a novel by Anne Brontë)

Her first glimpse of the sea was from a room as small as the experience was vast. It wasn’t the best lodging in Scarborough, but it offered a brightening view of the bay below the promontory where a castle crumbled and sands stretched wider and wider along the indecisive surf.

Wintry gusts whined against and even through the room’s grimy window. She dressed warmly to go out before breakfast.

Things were happening in the harbor with fishing boats; on the pier shops and stalls were preparing to open. Until that morning she had only ever seen gulls playing flying games over plowed fields for the freedom of having lost their way. Now they seemed agitated in a place they belonged. Her footprints on the sand were the first since the last tide, so she could imagine she was walking where no one had before. It was colder than expected, but nothing could dissuade her from approaching the sea and what it might do next. If it had been summer she would have taken off her shoes and stockings and tiptoed into little bursts of foam at the water’s edge where seaweed bobbed to and fro. Instead her gloves were washed in icy sand as she examined shells and pebbles.

Seagulls were circling above her now, the sun dispersing any clouds as it enlarged and chose to illuminate her for whoever was there to see.

A man was coming down the strand in a great cape that belonged to an actor’s wardrobe, hailing her with hand and voice and assuming she was glad to see him.

She surrendered long before he caught up with her.

“You must be perished. Here.”

She stopped the cape from sliding off his shoulders. “Then you’ll be cold.”

“I can bear it.” He turned, wondering what distracted her from him.

It was just a thought. That she might share a little of her passion without any impropriety, looking beyond his intention and the on-looking tiers of tile-roofed houses. She pointed to the northern gray of a simple church presiding like a cathedral. “St Mary’s. Where Anne Brontë is buried.”

“Interesting.” His smile said otherwise.

“Scarborough is where she saw the sea for the first time, too.”

He rubbed her hands.

She no longer had a choice, his cloak embracing as if to hide her, stroked over her ears and cheeks, fastened under and lifting her chin. She was ashamed she could be so ready for his advances: a long kiss, an uncertain happiness, a dance without music, and a pleasure that didn’t know how to be.

The Cathedral bells signaled a chance passing. He held her arms when they separated a little and didn’t seem to notice she was crying. “Ah. I can smell chestnuts roasting. Breakfast.”

In another moment it wasn’t hard to let him go.

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Recalling Scarborough

The sun was shining through the blind, and I thought how pleasant it would be to pass through the quiet town and take a solitary ramble on the sands while the world was in bed.
(from ‘ Agnes Grey’, a novel by Anne Bronte)

     Her first glimpse of the sea was from a room as small as the experience was vast. It wasn’t the best lodging in Scarborough, except as could be afforded, but there was a brightening view of the bay below the promotory where a castle crumbled, sands stretching wider and wider along the indecisive surf, and stars quickly fading.
     Wintry gusts whined against and even through her grimy window. She dressed warmly and decided to go out before breakfast.
     Things were happening in the harbor with fishing boats, and on the pier shops and stalls were preparing to open. Until that morning she’d only ever seen gulls playing flying games over plowed fields for the freedom of having lost their way. Now they seemed agitated in a place they belonged. Her footprints on the sand were the first since the last tide so she could imagine she was walking where no one had before. It was even colder than expected but nothing could dissuade her from approaching the sea and what it might do next. If it had been summer she would’ve taken off her shoes and stockings and tiptoed into little bursts of foam at the water’s edge, seaweed bobbing to and fro as though the land wouldn’t let go. Instead her gloves were washed in icy sand as she examined shells and pebbles.
     Seagulls were circling her now, the sun dispersing any clouds as it enlarged and chose to illuminate her for whoever was there to see. She looked around and saw a man coming down the strand in a great cape that belonged to an actor’s wardrobe, hailing her with hand and voice, assuming she was glad to see him.
     She surrendered long before he caught up with her.
     “You must be perished. Here.”
     She stopped the cape from sliding off his shoulders. “Then you’ll be cold.”
     “I can bear it.” He turned, wondering what distracted her from him.
     It was just a thought. That she might share a little of her passion without any impropriety, looking beyond his intention and the onlooking tiers of tile-roofed houses, pointing to the northern gray of a simple church presiding like a cathedral.
     “That’s St Mary’s. Where Anne Bronte is buried.”
     “Interesting.” His smile said otherwise.
     “Scarborough is where she saw the sea for the first time too.”
     He rubbed her hands with the coldness of his own.
     She no longer had a choice, his cloak embracing as if to hide her, stroked over her ears and cheeks, fastened under and lifting her chin. She was ashamed she could be so ready for his adulterous advances, a long kiss, an uncertain happiness, a dance without music, a pleasure that didn’t know how to be.
     The Cathedral bells signalled a chance passing. He held her arms when they separated a little and didn’t seem to notice she was crying. “Ah. I can smell chestnuts roasting. Breakfast!”
     In another moment it wasn’t that hard to let him go.

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

Before me rose a lofty hill, Behind me lay the sea . . .
(from ‘The Bluebell’, a poem by Anne Bronte)

©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.