Monday, February 25, 2008

Christina's World

Crawling uphill’s the hardest.

Left fist, right fist, swing them round.

Junior calls me The Sidewinder, on account of this poor dance of mine, but I will keep my peace about the boy. Polio might have taken my legs, but my thoughts still soar among them starlings.

Left fist, right fist, swing them round.

The Maine winds do shake these tawny grasses. So why can’t I hear the music no more?

Left . . .

Mama told me that my legs stopped working altogether when Charles stopped writing me. But Pastor Goodrum would call that a wicked sort of embellishment. My legs stopped working when God dried my nerves up as rough and black as that tree I’m fixing toward.

Right . . .

‘Course, Pop always says the devil’s in the details.

Swing them . . .


Breath comes harder up here, more ragged-like. I sit my forehead against the trunk’s scars.

C.O. + C.S.

I stop shaking when bark draws blood.

When the tree gives up its music.

“Boston’s not so far, Chrissie.”

“It’s farther than my arms.”

“But I’ll come for you next spring. When our tree here is all color and scent. When the starlings are building their nests.”

“Show me how you’ll come, Charlie.”

He laughs.

He shows me.

Left arm, right arm, swing me round.

Sometimes, sitting against our tree, it’s like he never put me down.
Because once, when swaddled beneath its branches, I did believe the world had legs.

[This piece was written for Jason Evans' "Whispers" contest at The Clarity of Night, which you can enter through 11 p.m. on Feb. 27th. I love Jason's photo, as seen above, and it immediately reminded me of Andrew Wyeth's Christina's World, which I've shown below for comparison. Thanks to Jason and Aine for a great contest!]


paisley said...

oh sarah,, that was beautiful... heartwarming full of hope... just beautiful.....

ChristineEldin said...

So unusual and beautiful!! I'm going to Jason's to make some comments, but I love this! Very much.

Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

This was an exceptional piece of writing - poetic, poignant and evocative. Really well done.

Shameless said...

Lovely, Sarah. A beautifully captured moment. Now, do I have still have time to work with that photo, too?

Anonymous said...

I haven't read your piece yet, but I was really touched by your comparison of my photo with Wyeth. Maybe it's because he worked in the very county of Pennsylvania that this photo was taken.* Chadds Ford is not a very long drive away.

I do think there is some commonality between what is captured in my photo and what seemed to Wyeth see.

(*The landscape in Christina's World was inspired by the area of Wyeth's summer home in Maine, however.)

Sarah Hina said...

Paisley, thanks so much. I'm glad you stopped by!

Chris, I did feel like this was something different from me, at least in terms of voice. But Jason's photo, and Wyeth's painting, spoke loudly to me.

Thank you, my friend. :)

Absolute vanilla, I really appreciate your coming by to tell me that. I'm so glad it touched you.

Seamus, get to work! You have until 11 p.m. EST, tomorrow (the 27th). Can't wait to see your contribution, if you get there. :)

That's amazing, Jason! I knew that the painting was inspired by Maine, but to me, it actually looks more like PA. Or Ohio. :)

I think the point of commonality between the painting and your photo lies in their stark beauty, the sense of distance that a rural landscape maintains between itself and the viewer. The only thing that can fill up the space between is your own solitude.

That tree is there to bind us to the earth. As is the farm for Wyeth's Christina.

Billy said...

Marvelous moment captured with your unique style, Sarah. I love it!

Aine said...

Hi Sarah-- just want to let you know that I haven't read your story yet. I'm waiting until the contest is closed so I can share my reactions with Jason when he reads the entries.

I see he has already commented on the Wyeth connection. As soon as I saw your title I squealed to Jason about how genius your observation was (he didn't make the connection since he wasn't as familiar with the painting's title.) I can't wait to read your piece (is it midnight yet?)


Sarah Hina said...

Thank you, Billy! I have a sinus infection which is making my teeth ache, but your comment made me smile. :)

Awesome, Aine! I'm glad you're a fellow Wyeth fan. :) We've got two in our house.

I hope I don't disappoint you...

I've really, really enjoyed the contest so far. It's been the lone highlight in a foggy, hacking, sneezy, snorting, teeth-aching, almost-dying week.


Vesper said...

You are a very talented writer, Sarah. This piece is amazing!
Please come by my blog, there are a few cute things waiting for you there. :-)

Sarah Hina said...

Thank you, Vesper!

I really appreciated that. :)

Hotwire said...

love it!!!

Anonymous said...

This is a departure for you in terms of voice and I love it. Now I wish there were more, as always your image perfectly compliments the piece. Brava Sarah!

Sarah Hina said...

Thanks, Hotwire. :)

I appreciate that, Ruth! Of course, partial credit goes to Jason (and Wyeth) for the inspiring images.

I did enjoy using a fresh voice for this one. :)

Ello said...

You know I loved this right Sarah? It was one of my favorites that I voted for. I loved the rhythm of the piece and it was so beautifully done.

raine said...

I had to come peek at your blog because I enjoyed your entry so.
Beautifully written, Sarah.
Loved it.

Sarah Hina said...

Thanks, Ello! I loved the humor of yours. I think comedy is harder to bring off most of the time. Which is why I rarely try it. ;)

Thanks for coming by, Raine! I thought your entry contained the strongest writing of the bunch. And I still vividly remember your piece from Jason's last contest.

You are an amazing writer! :)

raine said...

And you not only have a gift for writing, but a generous heart, lol.
I'll be looking forward to reading more of your beautiful work. ;)

Sheri said...

This is very good and as I was reading it, I thought of Andrew Wyeth's Christina's World, which I read in college and just loved his art. He was one of my most favorite! He and (perhpas polar opposite-) Modigliani.

Beautiful and very moving just like the photo and the artwork.

BTW, are you better? I, too, was gone for a while for being sick not once, but twice! I am back now! Hope you are feeling better too.

The Quoibler said...


Just fantastic! So incredible. I teared up, I really did.

I just gave you a little plug over at my blog, FYI. :)

Congrats on the win!!!


SzélsőFa said...

Congratulations, Sarah!
It was a truly heartfelt piece, very sad and touching.

Beth said...

Sarah, I really think you deserved both top spots, but I'm glad you got one. This was just perfection in a tale. Congratulations!

Sarah Hina said...

Thank you, everyone! I really appreciate all the support here. :)

It's been a crazy few days, but hopefully I'll get the blog up and running again soon.

Shameless said...

Hey Sarah, congrats on the readers' choice for your excellent piece here. I was right proud when I saw your name! :-) Go get 'em!

ChristineEldin said...

Congratulations on your Reader's Choice award!! I voted for this one as my favorite.

quill said...

simply breath taking Sarah.

Sarah Hina said...

I'm sorry I've been so absent lately. Going through a weird stage right now. Hopefully, I'll snap out of it soon!

Thanks again, guys. :)

ChristineEldin said...

Speaking of that weird stage....I saw you last night. Here, in Dubai.

A petite French woman, early thirties, short black hair and beautiful blue eyes. She had the perfect French accent. I couldn't stop staring at her, she probably thinks I'm a freak.

She calls herself Rachel, but I really know her name is Sarah.

Beth said...

Miss you, Sarah. Just wanted you to know. (and loved Christine's story above)

Cynthia said...

The painting Christine has always
haunting me and you do Christine
exceptional justice with your
words/thoughts, such empathy and
talent you possess to compose
this beyond lovely piece.

Ello said...

Sarah, where are you? Miss you! Come back soon.

ChristineEldin said...

Sarah, the girl struggling up the hill--are you trying to tell us something?

Sarah Hina said...

Chris, Ello, and Beth: you are all such sweethearts.

I'm sorry I haven't responded to your kind words before this. Things have been a little strange for me lately, but I'll be back in the swing of things here soon.

Thanks for missing me! :)

*~*{Sameera}*~* said...

Wonderful tribute to a beautiful work of art!

Congratulations(belated) for winning the Reader's Choice for this piece :)