Excerpt From The Last Bird Sings




Felix is the Elder,  the mentor and Marshall is his student, needing Felix to teach him what Marshall needs to know.   They are out in the field with the huge machine,  lovingly dubbed by the Brothers as The Hemingway.   It is hot and Marshall is fidgeting.

“Why do you say that evening can be felt when the sun is still high and so hot?”

And Felix looked at him with a delight that only the teacher feels when words take to the mind and light it like the sun itself.

“When the sun is heading for its resting place, it makes a movement in the sky.  At
a particular time in its journey, faster than the eye can see,  you can feel its path.  The touch of the air on your face will alert you to the evening coming upon us.  You will not see it but you will feel it.   And now that you are aware of its journey,  you will watch for it.   Some  things are felt long before they are seen.   And in due time,  you will know that all things,  even that as slight as the breath given by the sun in motion will have a substance.   And you will tell about all things by the feel of all things.”

Felix turned the Hemingway around at the end of the field.   He pointed it in the direction of the mountain and cut the motor.   He made motion for Marshall to take the wheel.   But this time he removed himself and walked around the machine.   He climbed into the seat that Marshall had vacated and sat there a moment.

Marshall looked at him with excitement as well as apprehension.   His voice was almost a whisper.  In fact when he opened his mouth,  the words could be heard as a croak of a frog.

“You mean to let me drive this by myself?  I don’t think I can do it, Felix.  Not by myself.”

“You can do it Marshall.   You can do it.  Just remember to lift the plough if you do
not intend to look back.   But You decide.   I will close my eyes and rest them a bit.  But you can do it,  I know.”

And Felix laid his head back on the shoulder of the seat and closed his eyes.   A light
twinkled around the corners of his eyes but his mouth did not betray him.   He gave a deep sigh,  and settled himself.

Marshall sat there for awhile wondering at this turn of events.   The sweat beaded on his upper lip and his hands shook.  With an effort that duplicated his inner quaking he turned the ignition on the Hemingway and with a roar,  the machine answered.  He decided after a minute that this first time behind the wheel, he best lift the plough.   And with a movement which spoke a trust of his budding confidence, he grasped the wheel and announced to Felix,

“Just this first time I lift the plough.   Tomorrow I will be able to look back at the
furrows I make and guide the Hemingway, too.  Today I get the feel of the machine but tomorrow I will be able to look back and go forward too.”

Felix lifted his hand in acknowledgement and wanting Marshall to note his approval,  with his hand in motion he wiped the smile off his face.

Leave your name and a comment for the blind drawing of The Last Bird Sings.   The winner of the drawing will be announced Friday morning the 14th of March.   I look forward to hearing from you!

2 responses to “Excerpt From The Last Bird Sings”

  1. Dear Veronica,
    The notion of evening being felt is palpable to me b/c I feel the presence of the warm coming as day wakes up….. So the inhalation of breath as day begins to get sleepy makes perfect sense.
    The possibility of receiving one of your books makes this lady smile with anticipation as I sit at the window of my 200 year old farmhouse and look at the Sycamore tree which has been my sentinel…always.
    I love what you say and how you say it.

  2. Dear Veronica, Such a wonderful excerpt! I am transported back to my Mom’s stories of life on a Maine dairy farm in the 1930’s! She and her brother did most of the work, Father died when she was a infant. Mother taught to support. The life she described was filled with love and lessons. She is now 93 with dementia, so stories no longer are told. Thank you for a reminder on this cold and snowy day in Maine! Laura

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