In the late winter of 1941 my sister Franny returned to Ferncliff. Even now, years later, I am able still to see her so clearly, as I did then on that February afternoon when from the window of my bedroom, with Rose (still just a baby) asleep in my arms, I watched Franny, sitting in silence, in the corner of that walled garden that was for so long all that remained of this place. And the river glimmered faintly in the afternoon sunlight like the slightly rippled surface of blown glass cooling while blackbirds gathered in the stubbles of corn stalks in the fields opposite. Franny, looking so much like a ghost or a figure from a familiar painting, gazed out over the river’s shimmering surface with eyes that seemed to see for someone who had been lost to the past. Hushed, quiet beneath the winter, Mother’s garden, neglected for many years, waits for spring to revive its tired roots. The snow beginning, falling lightly, and I imagine Franny sees this place through the succession of long summer shadows.
CKW lives and writes and snacks in southeast Ohio.