A soft warm breeze. The residents of Jasper feel it in the tender places of their bodies. It sighs, they sigh back. Their bodies relent a little, let down their guard. The breeze is gentle. It comes and goes. When it’s still, people forget about it. They perspire a little, and when it comes again they appreciate it all the more. Their clothing stirs, brushing against their skin, awakening it. They notice the clouds above them–scattered, drifting, diaphanous, playing with the light. They lean their heads back and notice the way the clouds unwind in sensuous spirals. They feel free to look at them as long as they like. They feel they are becoming like the clouds–soft and easily moved. Gently, calmly, sweetly, they unfurl.*
Don turns on the heat, and as they drive slowly down the wet road, Jeanne is overwhelmed by a feeling of warmth and safety, as if the car were a kind of solitary, self-contained little world that nothing could penetrate. She and Don catch each other’s eyes and smile shyly, secretively, almost as if they’ve gotten away with something. And now another movie comes into her head: Marilyn Monroe in Bus Stop standing at the bus station on a cold day, wrapping her lover’s jacket around her as if it were her lover’s arms, as if it were all the home she needs.*
Up and down the Banks, the tide rises in earnest. The wind toys with the works of men, slamming a gate here, overturning a trash can there. Fred the cat lowers his head, fur bristling, and sniffs the buffeting air. With tail thrashing, he creeps under the pilings of a house near The Cove, where he still checks regularly, though no one feeds him there any more. He backs into the smallest space he can find, a hollow place between a piling and a dune, and eyes the waves with hostility.
The storm dies down around dinnertime, but that night, in the wee hours, it becomes furious again, a real nor’easter. Like a bomb, the storm explodes while the Bakers are in the deepest part of their sleep, and it enters their dreams.*
“I just called to ask you if everyone at the Outer Banks is stupid,” says Hirsch. He pronounces it “stoopid,” with a trace of a Brooklyn accent. “Listen to this,” he goes on, without waiting for a reply. “The Outer Banks is a very special place,” he reads from one of the brochures, “with very unique homes.”
“You’ve decided not to move here because of a realtor’s grammar?”
“And listen to this! This strikes the nail right on the head. These people want me to live in some sort of housing development called ‘Mirage.’ They think this is attractive! Listen to their slogan: ‘Mirage: A Vision You Can Behold’.”
“Hirsch, these are realtors, not writers.”
“I don’t remember getting this kind of stuff when I moved to Charlottesville.”
“Well, the realtors in Charlottesville probably are writers.”*
A flock of swans is winging its way southward. But the swans have lost their bearings and gone astray. Really it’s not the swans but the land that’s gone astray. The flock flies to the limits of exhaustion, only to see no lake where a lake was last year. The lead cob falters and circles a couple of times, the flock following him. They have flown eight hundred miles without stopping, and now, where they expected a familiar place to rest, feed, and preen, they find unknown territory.
Swampland has become farmland, and the too-small, too-muddy, too-exposed pond that the swans finally settle on doubles as a hog wallow. Some birds begin preening immediately, some dive for plants in insects for the cygnets, others waddle uneasily onto shore and search the ground like chickens. The know they will not stay here long.
But it will be long enough.*
*from Chapter 1 of Andrea Fisher Rowland’s new novel, High Tide.
Most impressive is the achieved quietness of the collection, one that maintains composure, dignity, and perspective in the face of many complexities
Stephen Cushman, author of Hothead: A Poem
The poems explore close relationships with loved ones, and then expand the view from the intimate to the universal, encompassing the poet’s first glimpse – with her sister – of a black swan in New Zealand, and our collective dance to the music of the spheres. Get your copies now!
A superb integration of humanity and nature, Rowland’s book is articulate, poetic, and titillates the senses. After reading, I’m still feeling the pull of High Tide.
Erica Arvold, Founder & CEO, Arvold
At the Outer Banks, environmental scientist Marika Hansen stands in the ocean and contemplates, with grim satisfaction, the end of the world. Migrating swans arrive from the Arctic, to find that their familiar salt marsh has become a hog wallow. A confluence of muck, microbes, and chance create a powerful new life form that will invade the beach town of Jasper, North Carolina. Get your copies now!
Join the author’s community as we celebrate the publication of Andrea’s two books! Twice! In two different places! On two different dates and times! Attend both of them! Learn how the books came to be, and meet with the people who made it all happen. Celebrate! Pick up copies for yourself and for thoughtful gifts for all your words-loving friends.
Does a Tuesday evening sound good to you? Join us on Tuesday 12 November at Renaissance School in downtown Charlottesville, VA, from 5:00pm to 6:30pm. NOTE: Enter on 5th St NE, between Market and Jefferson Streets, Charlottesville, VA 22902
Is a Saturday morning better for you? Some coffee with your literature? Join us on Saturday 7 December at Baine’s Books & Coffee in downtown Scottsville, VA, from 10:00am to noon. 485 Valley St, Scottsville, VA 24590
About the Author
Teacher, author, playwright, and poet Andrea Fisher Rowland (1957-2019) made her home in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Andrea spent her childhood years in New Zealand, and thereafter was a Virginia resident for most of her life. She graduated in English from James Madison University, where hers was the first student-written play – entitled “Fancies” – ever presented on the main stage of campus and for which she won the Norman Lear Award for Comedy Playwriting.
She earned an MA from the University of Virginia with a concentration in Creative Writing, studying with John Casey and Greg Orr.
She went on to earn a PhD from the University as well, working with Karen Chase and Edgar Shannon. Her dissertation, The Supernatural Muse: Representations of the Creative Impulse in the Fiction of Emily Bronte, Charlotte Bronte, and Charles Dickens, examines the supernatural figures (ghosts, genii, etc.) appearing in those authors’ works.
She worked as an Assistant Dean and Director of Studies at the University of Virginia, taught composition and literature at Wake Forest University, and taught introduction to theater at James Madison University. She has directed readings and productions of Shakespeare and other early modern playwrights at Wake Forest and at the University of Virginia. Most recently she taught English at Renaissance School in Charlottesville.
Throughout the years, while raising her son Liam, she wrote poetry, plays, and fiction, notably her novel High Tide. In 2017, an excerpt from High Tide was a finalist in the Virginia Festival of the Book Fiction Contest, and her poem, “These Same Fields,” won the Writer House / Jefferson Madison Regional Library Poetry Competition. Her poem, “Waikato,” was published in Artemis Journal in 2018.
The poetry collection, Family Album, and the novel, High Tide, launch in November 2019, both from Chenille Books.