Jan. 8, 2015
Congratulations to Gina Williams, the first writer selected for publication in the new Whidbey Writes program, a collaboration between the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts (NILA) and Whidbey Life Magazine (WLM). Its purpose is to give WLM readers an opportunity to enjoy short fiction and poetry by writers who have a connection to Whidbey Island.
We’re pleased to share these two poems with you and we look forward to publishing the original work of selected winners at the beginning of each month as part of Whidbey Writes. NILA congratulates Gina and thanks volunteer editors Heather Anderson, Mureall Hebert and Chris Spencer, who review submissions on solstices and equinoxes and pass on the work they enjoy most to Whidbey Life Magazine for publication online and in print. To find out more about Whidbey Writes and the submission criteria, visit the NILA website.
Well I sang to myself
That I want to be free
But the road I must travel
Its end I cannot see
— Tom Morello, The Road I Must Travel (lyrics from the song in the poem)
The Farthest You Can Go
My son tells me the first thing he wants to do
when he graduates from high school
is get in a car and drive
all the way across the country.
As he tells me this, he is cradling his guitar,
slim fingers picking at the strings,
as if they are questions. “I’d like to check out Maine.”
This sounds somewhat ridiculous. Maine? Why Maine?
An icy wind blows the Chinese chimes on the back porch.
The cat wants in. Cold air races across my bare toes
as I open the back door. I tuck a piece of tired, loose hair
behind my ear and say,
“I know how good it feels to just get in a car
and go, go on and on. I’ve done that before,” I say.
But what I want to say is, “Take me.
Take me with you. I’ve never been to Maine.”
He begins playing this song on the guitar,
and though I know he began leaving me
the moment he left me, the very moment
he was born, I still cry for the things that I know,
too many things I don’t want to be true.
Finally I say, “Why Maine?”
He doesn’t answer, strums a few final chords.
I recognize the song, but can’t remember the lyrics.
Later, I will look them up. Later, I will not understand
another part of him.
“Because it’s the farthest I can go,” he finally answers.
He puts the guitar in the stand, but my ears still echo the
sounds of him as he runs his hand through his hair and
walks over, gives me a little shove, the way boys do.
— Gina Williams
Threads of Understanding
for Aunt SuSan
This is what connects —
a fragile red capillary
twining as a pea shoot,
pulsing against a silver tide,
The poetry of things,
These binding things
soothing as salted wind on waves,
owl spirits calling,
careful stitches healing
— Gina Williams
I am a Pacific Northwest native originally from Whidbey Island. My work has been featured or is forthcoming most recently in Carve, The Sun, Fugue, Palooka, Great Weather for Media, Black Box Gallery, theNewerYork, and Gallery 360, among others. Learn more about me and my work at GinaMarieWilliams.com.
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I am humbled by and appreciative of this honor, thank you!
Whidbey is a special place.