From the Editor

New work published at New England Memories

Wallis Sands Beach, New Hampshire
Photograph by Linda J Thomas

I’m pleased to announce new work in New England Memories in which three writers eloquently guide us—to the shore of the multi-natured sea, or through ripening orchards, or to blueberry fields—as they share their memories and reflections.

Berith Aargh Hogan shares her story of family, loss, and solace in her lyrical essay “They, Me & the Sea.”

Theresa Hickey’s poems “Dappled Days” and “Of Water and Sea” show us awe, comfort, and strength found in nature’s land and sea.

Elaine Reardon’s poem “Nan” invites us into family traditions across cultures, and the gifts they bring.

I know this is a challenging summer for all of us as we cope the best we can during the COVID-19 pandemic. So I’m especially grateful to Berith, Theresa, and Elaine for the time and creative energy they gave to share their work with New England Memories.

We hope you enjoy reading their work. And we hope it brings you inspiration during these daunting days.

Take care,

Linda Thomas, Editor
Pine Siskin Press

Berith Arragh Hogan, Creative Nonfiction, Featured

They, Me & the Sea

by Berith Arragh Hogan

Since first the ticks of time recorded me in attendance I have made a yearly pilgrimage to Cape Ann on Massachusetts’s rocky North Shore – on some lucky, and some sad, occasions the trip has exceeded the yearly dictate. Funerals, weddings, Thanksgivings, spring breaks, and deathbeds dot the calendar in between.

I have driven, flown, or taken the train. I’ve broken down, turned around, and wept as a young lady trying to get from North Station to South Station (or was it the other way around?) to board the commuter rail. I’ve clocked in at six hours flat from my home base in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and I have made it in twelve when circumstances conspired against me. I cannot imagine, though, a distance long enough to prevent me from making the trek.

My mother, Jane, married into the deep dark of the North Atlantic when she wed her first husband, David, a thousand ebbing tides ago in 1963. They had a daughter Kira and a son Micheal, my eldest and only sister and the oldest of my brothers four. The marriage to the man did not last, but his mother Nadia, his sister Julia, and the ocean churning invited her back year after year – even after her second marriage to my father Michael, yielded a raucous family with no shared blood. A lent-out lineage legacy lasting generations beyond the dissolved union of its origin.

I joined the family’s yearly caravan north with my natal arrival in 1981. My mind in its infancy had no words or shapes assembled to log the sprawling stays of lazy summer weeks – but by the time my sentience had garnered such capabilities the tidal pools of coastal rocks had always hosted starfish, snails, and younger swimmers. The nooks of the sea-blackened boulders had always offered precarious perches to be shared with mussels, seaweed, and barnacles. Blueberries had always been plucked warm from their bushes along forest paths leading to the abandoned granite quarries we swam in. There is no frame of my memory’s blink untouched by the crashing waves or lazy eddies offered by Cape Ann’s Rockport, and Rockport’s Pigeon Cove.

The water was already haunted by the time I got there, swallowing so many of Gloucester’s fishermen. Even Nadia’s son Daniel had walked out into the hungry sea. But despite, or in thanks, or in indifference, the ghosts I spied in her waves bore power equal in sadness and in peace. Both moonrise by the settled sea and the violent crashes of storm-swelled surf carved an ache out of my heart before the heartbreaks had been enacted. The ocean warned me of the pain there would be.

My brother Daniel was the first ghost of my lifetime. His time on earth ending at the age of twenty-two. My world breaking at sweet seventeen. Nadia left not that much after, my borrowed grandmother with the house by the sea.

The ocean did not change her story. Not once did she ever mislead. Still when my mother passed twenty years after my brother the pain shocked me with its depth and its crash. The worst heartbreak was offered just after. Four months later I lost my infant daughter, my sweetest Margot, now tucked forever in her sleep. The depths of the lightless black pressure of this loss traversed only by creatures designed by its deep.

I return to the ocean in three days now, with my husband Will and our four living children in tow. We will stay at the home of my Aunt Julia, once Nadia’s. The same weathered house perched at the crest of the deep ocean’s shore. We will meet there two of my brothers, Jake and Joshua, their children, and Jake’s wife Hilary who has been joining us for more than twenty years now. My aging father will still venture the journey. The fleeting tick of time grants each gathering an unsolicited nostalgia.

So, gather we will on the cusp of the sea’s rhythmed, beating shore. The children will bathe in her cold majesty. Her magic will render us all under her spell. There will be peace in the calm of her power. She doesn’t lie, no, she could never. She tells a tale and I now know the story. I know more shapes and words than I wish I could assemble. While she smooths the bones of my ghosts, my beloveds, she whispers the song of my spirits in her gale.

Berith Arragh Hogan, Contributors

Berith Arragh Hogan

Berith Arragh Hogan is a writer, a wife, and a mother raising her children alongside her husband in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Her first love in both reading and writing is realistic fiction, though she also very much appreciates the unique emotional outlet afforded by the personal essay. She is drawn to approaching personal essays with a similar language and structure as her fiction writing – finding a balm in applying metaphor and symbolism in the processing and retelling of her personal traumas. She is nearing completion of her first novel – but taking plenty of breaks to enjoy the more timely rewards of short-stories, essays, and poetry. More of her work is available at www.beritharraghhogan.com.

Read Berith’s essay in New England Memories:

 

Featured, Poetry, Theresa Hickey

Dappled Days

by Theresa Hickey

The grandeur of sky and sea is awesome, but
in an orchard, one notices
small wonders every season

Each turn of weather
bears fruit, cleaving to the vines
clinging for clemency from storms

Dimpled valentines of berries,
tiny jewels—red and radiant
black and blue—fill baskets

Pierced in their prime, flushed
pinks and reds, noble nectars flow
from peaches, plucked from branches

In autumn, apples line rows of meadows.
Succulent still, as once to Eve; the apple’s
robust beauty tempts each hidden desire

Hardy seeds become the fruit of life
and we, our sight and taste reborn
from fertile soil the farmer tills,
are awed in silent ways
as we eat our fill
to offer thanks and praise
for dappled days

 

This poem appears in Theresa’s poetry collection, Shy, published by Finishing Line Press.

Featured, Poetry, Theresa Hickey

Of Water and Sea

by Theresa Hickey

We, who dot
        the parched land, need oceans
                   of resiliency to sustain prevailing winds
                             that we might grow in courage
                                         that we might not grow old
                                                               before our time

We watch as tides
        come in-go out, but rarely do we
                   seek the comfort of the sea
                             to show us mercy, refresh us
                                         so that dreams do
                                                               not run dry

Breathe in—absorb her wisdom,
        each ebb and flow spills out a melodic mantra—
                   a universal mother,
                             she carries off upon her crests
                                         the fears a cynical world provokes—
                                                               as we breathe out

With every breaking wave,
        each shift of current washes us
                   as we become reborn
                             destined to become her children—
                                         powerful
                                                           free

This poem appears in Theresa’s poetry collection, Shy, published by Finishing Line Press.

Elaine Reardon, Featured, Poetry

Nan

by Elaine Reardon

In Cambridge it’s snowing softly, and Nan
sets the table for Sunday supper. She reaches
into the fridge for butter, cold slices of ham,

a jar of pigs feet. We crowd chairs around the
table. I sit on Mum’s lap with a slice of bread,
butter, ham. Not food I’m used to. Mum and I

are quiet. I wonder who was here earlier for dinner,
why we only come for leftovers, late in the day.
My older Irish cousins show me how to play games

I don’t know yet, and Nan hands me a rectangular tin
with two handles. She says for you, a lunchbox.
I wonder at it. It’s very small, and I have a Roy Roger’s

lunch box at home. She doesn’t know what I have there,
where I live with my Armenian grandmother, where
we speak another language, where dad whispers to me

in Irish, sings lullabies and tells me stories at bedtime.
I’m not used to having extra anything, and I’m doubtful
of this gift. She offers you can use it to pick blueberries.

When summer comes we pile into our car, pick up Nan,
my cousins, and Aunt Maureen to pick berries in Stoughton.
We walk along the dead end road, run in Paul’s sheep field,

slip past the fence to Glen Echo Lake. We have purple lips
and tongues. This is a day of heaven, swimming, and comfort.
Wild blueberries plonk on the bottom of my special tin.

 

This poem appears in Elaine’s chapbook, Look Behind You, published by Flutter Press, fall 2019

Contributors, Elaine Reardon

Elaine Reardon

Elaine Reardon is a writer and herbalist. Her first chapbook, The Heart is a Nursery For Hope, won first honors from Flutter Press in 2016. Her newest poetry book, Look Behind You, was published by Flutter Press in September 2019. Most recently Elaine’s poetry has been published by UCLA Journal, Naugatuck River Review, North Dakota Quarterly, The Henniker Review, and similar journals. Elaine has been a feature on Dublin Ireland radio and local television, and she was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Visit her website at www.elainereardon.wordpress.com.

Read Elaine’s poem on New England Memories:

From the Editor

New creative nonfiction & call for submissions

Spring on the inside
Photograph by Linda J Thomas

Happy 2020 from New England Memories! We said farewell to 2019 with new poetry–Parker Towle’s “Sugarloaf Descent,” Ann B. Day’s “One Last Sweet Breath,” and Yvona Fast’s “Dormant Stillness.”

We also published a humorous memoir essay by first-time contributor Jesseca P. Timmons, titled “Agatha” about two sisters, four turkeys, and one “sonofabitch” dog named Louis.

To begin 2020, we’re featuring a memoir essay titled “Gertrude’s Gifts” by Jennifer E. Tirrell. This lovely essay about family and belonging is Jennifer’s first contribution to New England Memories.

I would love to see more submissions in essay form about childhood memories, similar to Jesseca’s and Jennifer’s essays. What favorite memory of a family member, childhood friend, or pet could you share with New England Memories?

My grateful thanks to our latest contributors for sharing their work with New England Memories.

Wishing you the best of memories,

Linda Thomas, Editor
Pine Siskin Press

pinesiskinpress@gmail.com