Sacred Wilderness

Sacred Wilderness

Susan Power
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 268
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.14321/j.ctt7zt8p4
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  • Book Info
    Sacred Wilderness
    Book Description:

    A Clan Mother story for the twenty-first century,Sacred Wildernessexplores the lives of four women of different eras and backgrounds who come together to restore foundation to a mixed-up, mixed-blood woman-a woman who had been living the American dream, and found it a great maw of emptiness. These Clan Mothers may be wisdom-keepers, but they are anything but stern and aloof-they are women of joy and grief, risking their hearts and sometimes their lives for those they love. The novel swirls through time, from present-day Minnesota to the Mohawk territory of the 1620s, to the ancient biblical world, brought to life by an indigenous woman who would come to be known as the Virgin Mary. The Clan Mothers reveal secrets, the insights of prophecy, and stories that are by turns comic, so painful they can break your heart, and perhaps even powerful enough to save the world. In lyrical, lushly imagined prose,Sacred Wildernessis a novel of unprecedented necessity.

    eISBN: 978-1-60917-401-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-2)
  3. The Visitation of Gladys Swan
    (pp. 3-20)

    The city of Saint Paul was named for a man of extremes, Paul of Tarsus, the Pharisee who became a Christian martyr. His Cathedral rises majestically near the mouth of Summit Avenue—the Victorian-era jewel that runs from east to west through the city like a river of material abundance. Mansions stare at one another across the wide road, some of them red-bricked and haughty, some of them a fairy-tale dream of wood lace trim and turrets.

    Gladys had never lived in such a fancy neighborhood. She’d spent most of her life on a reservation in northern Minnesota and later...

  4. The Glorious Mysteries
    (pp. 21-36)

    Candace was a hungry reader who hoarded books and could not feel safe or relaxed unless a visible stack of waiting volumes perched on the table beside her favorite armchair—the only disorder allowed in her domain. She favored women authors, though quite unconsciously; there was nothing political in her choices. Louise Erdrich was the reigning queen of her literary heart, but she also pounced on every Alice Munro story she could find, for each one was a world unto itself, every bit as satisfying as a novel. She’d read Byatt’sPossessionand Patchett’sThe Magician’s Assistantso many times...

  5. The First Supper
    (pp. 37-58)

    Gladys heard the sweet chimes of the front doorbell, nothing like the hair-raising buzzer of her old apartment. She answered the door and looked upon a lovely woman who reminded her of Binah, when her daughter was younger and less unhappy. This isn’t one of those Jehovah’s Witnesses, she thought. This one is part spirit. How she knew she couldn’t say, just a feeling, and her grandparents had taught her to honor those instincts so she held the door open for the woman and invited her inside.

    The stranger looked familiar to her, yet she couldn’t recall the reference. Then...

  6. Indian Confessional
    (pp. 59-82)

    Jules phoned Gladys the day after the dinner party to thank her for sharing her favorite foods and preparing them so well.

    “I’d like to return the favor though you wouldn’t be thanking me anytime soon for what I’d be able to put together. But I could take you out for a meal—that way you’ll be safe and won’t get sick.” He laughed at himself, then hushed, and Gladys could hear his nerves jangling on the other end, noisy as a man playing with coins in his pocket. She found his trembling anxiety a bit endearing but couldn’t resist...

  7. Queen of the Heavens Gladys Swan (2009)
    (pp. 83-94)

    Candace and I were working together in the kitchen, rolling out dough to bake a pizza for her husband which she says is his favorite food.

    “There was this place in Cambridge, Pinocchio’s Pizza, he was their best customer. They knew his name and everything, that he was from Minnesota. But he doesn’t get to indulge much—clients and colleagues aren’t really the pizza set.” She was chopping the vegetables he favored, to layer on top, and I have to say, she’s pretty skillful with that knife, quick and neat. I couldn’t help but wonder how well she’d do skinning...

  8. Stations of the Cross
    (pp. 95-116)

    A week after the reading at Birchbark Books Maryam had yet to make any headway with Candace, who was proving to be more stubborn than her slight frame suggested. Gladys didn’t have to ask her friend how matters stood between them; she had only to watch Candace come and go, dark glasses dimming her view, silence answering every one of Maryam’s statements. Maryam looked tired, discouraged. Late at night when the house was still the two women shared stories of their day, sweetened by one of Gladys’s concoctions made of various fruit juices mixed together. Maryam’s favorite so far was...

  9. Sacred Wilderness Jigonsaseh (1626)
    (pp. 117-176)

    My people, the Kanien’kehá:ka, were placed in this territory by the Creator and here we shall remain forever. Welcome to our territory and to this story which begins and ends with the birth of my son, Ayowantha. I knew he would be different from other boys who ran through the village in packs, because already he was a leader before he was born. He came to me in dreams and directed me what to eat. He smiled a baby smile at me, his eyes full of stars, and said, “Mother, I ask you to please eat some fish every day....

  10. Revelations
    (pp. 177-194)

    Candace barely noticed when Gladys and Maryam returned to her room and retrieved the Face. In the time it took them to watch the filmEnchantedwith several patients in the ward, Candace had absorbed the story of her ancestors. She was growing what felt like skin, bones, teeth, and hair, but really it was foundation, something to stand on, so when she swung her legs down to rise from her cot, when she placed her feet on the cold linoleum floor, she felt all at once like a tree—a tall, shimmering cottonwood or a graceful silver birch. A...

  11. The Confession of Ruby Two-Axe Ruby Two-Axe (2009)
    (pp. 195-214)

    Dear Ms. Jenssen:

    I send this package with some trepidation—hoping the contents will be like a treasure coming to you from the forgotten past rather than a bombshell that upends your present life. The items contained herein: (1) a transcript of my last conversation/interview with your maternal grandmother, Ruby West, née Two-Axe, who passed away this year at the age of 105, (2) a scrap of tanned hide she handled quite reverently in her final days—the source of which becomes clear in the transcript, (3) a photograph of your great-grandfather and his lacrosse team, all of them steelworkers...

  12. The Time of the New Mind
    (pp. 215-224)

    Candace stood in her private library before the shelf containing all of the photo albums she’d carefully put together over the years. No loose pictures in a shoebox for her; she’d typed and, in recent years, printed captions for each snap—what year, event, person. An entire life as methodically labeled as an archeological find. She pulled out the first in the series, its faux leather cover cracked and peeling, and carried it to her favorite armchair in the bedroom. She sat, holding the album on her knees. She tucked wings of hair that fell across her cheeks behind her...

  13. The Gospel of Maryam Maryam (2009)
    (pp. 225-232)

    Maryam left a gift for her friends when she moved out of the mansion—a microcassette tape, containing pieces of her story she wanted to share with Gladys and Candace. As she explained in an introductory statement, in her rich smoky voice that made Candace think of night-blooming flowers like jasmine, fragrant and mysterious, she had been circumspect about sharing too much of her own story when she was with them. She said this territory was not hers; she belonged to other soil, other hills and rivers, as did her tales. But to leave like a cipher when there had...

  14. Assumption
    (pp. 233-234)

    The day Maryam left was a bright cold morning in early October, the wind not chilly enough to make the average Minnesotan shiver yet carrying a crystal-blue edge that sharpens the mind. Gladys and Candace walked with Maryam through Crocus Hill, up and down tree-shaded streets, their progress watched by rabbits and woodpeckers and the shy albino squirrels who peeked from bushes.

    “This is the one,” Maryam indicated with a gentle lift of her chin. The three women stopped on Goodrich Street before a roomy lemon-yellow house decorated with wood lace trim. A tall pine reigned over the front lawn,...

  15. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 235-237)