Thursday, July 24, 2014

Charlotte writer Rebecca Schenck in 'The Widow's Handbook'

Rebecca Schenck of Charlotte is one of the contributors to "The Widow's Handbook: Poetic Reflections on Grief and Survival" (The Kent State University Press, $38 paper). Ruth Bader Ginsburg, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, writes the foreword. Schenck is the widow of architectural photographer Gordon Schenck, who died in 2009: Here is her excerpt, addressed to her late husband:

Come Saturday Morning

If we were in town on Saturday, of course we went to the Charlotte Regional Farmers' Market on Yorkmont Road. Longtime vendors knew that we would pick the vegetables with unusual shapes or colors that matched our pottery: red onions, turnips and eggplant. Sometimes cucumbers and gourds took the natural form of animals, which you loved tucking under your arm. 

The last time you were there, Mrs. Hoffman walked you to the car that I had pulled up close to her booth. A couple of weeks after you died, I took her your obituary, told the berry man and the flower man, didn't buy a thing.

The second time I went, Nise was back with her spring lettuce. When I told her you were gone, she hugged me and cried, handing me a mixed bag of red and green. She told me Lily had lost her daughter. I didn't recognize the name, but she's the artistic woman who placed the flowers beside the little vegetables on her table. I stopped to sympathize with her. Mrs. Hoffman gave me a jar of jelly and mailed me an Easter card.

Another week, I bought one tomato, one bell pepper, four yellow squash and a $2 bunch of blue ragged robins from the Asian family we liked so much. Gas prices are going up again, and I stopped on South Tryon to fill the Volvo. A woman at the pump noticed the flowers on the front seat and said they were pretty. I told her they were our favorites but my sweet husband had died; then I burst into tears. She said, "That's all right," and I said it wasn't.

Last Saturday, I went to the Farmers' Market again. When Mrs. Hoffman gave me pink peonies, I remembered your mother's talking about the peonies that bloomed the May you were born. At the plant shed I bought two Irene lantanas and stopped to tell the Celtic herb man that this year we have a full crop of his Kentucky Colonel spearmint. But you are not here. He was so sorry and handed me a pot of dill.

I came home and had what we liked best for a summer Saturday lunch: an ear of corn, a BLT and iced tea with a sprig of mint. I miss you.


Anonymous said...

This makes me burst into tears and I don't know her or her husband. Her writing makes me see the story in vivid colors. Thank you for this excerpt!