Prologue to Arrows Axes and Scythes


Witness: an illustration from Arrow Axes and Scythes

Below is the Prologue to my upcoming illustrated memoir, Arrow Axes and Scythes.  While the book recalls a time long passed, the influence of those years lasted a lifetime.  The Prologue explains the author’s attempt to convey the emotional content of memory without distorting the essential truth of events.

We are all invisible witnesses. If not for this, how many crimes would be reported?

I think we imagine that children do not see and if they see they do not understand. We reassure ourselves, as we carry on in our imperfect ways, that even if they understand they surely will forget. But the mind is not so dependably careless with its impressions. Many remain for a lifetime.

The events recorded in this book occurred more than fifty years ago, when I was a child. Some memories are lost to me, yet many come back. Are these accurate? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Ideas are not preserved in amber. They are subject to the whims of experience and bias.

My childhood was a time of secrets. Much that is revealed here was never meant to be public. But what I could not say then, will now be told.

At the end of the book one of the personalities, my father, offers testimony for himself. A letter exists in which he describes motivation for his actions. Readers may weigh this evidence and decide for themselves whether or not the document supports my value as a witness.




An excerpt is offered in another blog on this site: A Burial

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Matteawan Station_132

In the book, Looking Back, Looking Forward, the author speaks of leaving her country home and moving to New York City.  The train station above was likely one that was the departing point for her new life; it was likely the last place she saw as headed into the future.

Looking Back, Looking Forward  was written as a demonstration book, not as a straightforward memoir, but the details in the book are all true–at least as true as memory will allow. The author of the book speaks of a kind of longing for the country home left behind. This rupture in her life took place when she was a child and had little control over her destiny.

It is obvious from the events described in the book that the author’s family left their country home for good reason.  Nonetheless, this departure was experienced as a loss and the loss is palpable throughout the book.

The picture of the train station above captures the sense of quiet solitude the author seems to miss. There is in this scene nothing of the bustle she describes of her new home in Brooklyn.

looking back cover for site
This slim volume was created as a demonstration book for the writing manual, “Ten Steps to Writing Your Memoir”. Though “Looking Back Looking Forward” was not intended to be a full-blown memoir, it has within it the inescapable emotions that recollecting any life may evoke.