I put on my air mask
First this time
Something not like me
I usually go sloshing
To save the world
And forget that I
Until I left for college, Newburn Drive in suburban Pittsburgh was home. It was where our family grew up during the forties and fifties. It was where I moved from girlhood to womanhood. It was where I felt the irresistible tug of first love. And so with Silent is the Magpie, this novel of renewal, I return to this address that defined so much of who I became then and inspires the story I tell now.
Childhood summers were often spent in the Laurel Highlands, an hour to the east. Its mountains are old and worn. Ancient stands of hardwoods and pines are long gone, as well as the first peoples who lived among them. But like the second growths of woods that now cover those hills, this is where I find renewal. Trees again grow straight and tall and thick. Streams run clear and full of fat trout. Deer and bear and raptors abound. There are outcroppings and caves that sing with silence. The first peoples have been replaced with others whose roots grow deeper with every generation.
This seemed the ideal setting for a sixty-something woman to seek and discover herself after a lifetime of being defined by others. And to show that what was left behind on Newburn Drive was neither forgotten nor discarded. Only made new.
All net profits from Newburn Drive Press will be donated to charitable organizations, with a gentle preference towards people with my husband’s disease – multiple sclerosis.
Silent Is The Magpie This is Vanita’s first novel. Her protagonist is Jamie Barlow, a woman in her sixties, who asks, perhaps not for the first time, ‘Who am I?’ Newly widowed and left with her husband’s company to manage, she decides instead to spend a year at their remote cabin finding the answer to that question. It is not as easy, nor as straightforward, as she thought it would be.
Air Mask This is Vanita’s first book of poetry. These poems were written often deep in the night, her only respite from the daily challenges of caring for her husband.
Excerpt from Jamie’s journal:
“I started hearing it one night when the day’s demons hurled about and I cowered deep in a living room chair. I call it a ‘Voice’ but at first I didn’t hear any words. Just a sound. A quiet sound. At once distant and near. Like a steady trickling song that seeped through all the noise.
“People thought I was crazy enough as it was. Probably a lot of them still do. Best I just keep it all to myself.
“That’s why I’m here. To have all the alone darkness I want. And need. I want to coax that Voice into my room. Talk to me some more. Tell me more things that are pure and true.
“Voice, I want you in the light of my days and the dark of my nights.”
©2021 Newburn Drive
Excerpt from the title poem: