I’m a shameless annotator; every book I read gets defaced. With Cold Mountain, though, I’m trying something new. Starting today, instead of closing my notes and markings between pages, I’ll revisit each chapter and collect every sentence I’ve underlined*, then shuffle them around to create something completely new. A story within a story. Or perhaps an accidental poem.
That is to say none of the sentences below were intended by Charles Frazier to be in this sequence.
*If a word or sentence strikes me, and I resort to reading it twice, it gets the line.
From the chapter titled “the ground beneath her hands”
Best paired with
All her life, her father had kept her back from the hardness of work.
They had spent entire rainy afternoons snug and dry as denned foxes, whispering secrets to each other.
She looked up with disappointment to the faint lacework of pale blue sky visible through the leaves.
Much of the past three damp months she spent sitting in the chair reading, a quilt wrapped around her to hold back the chill of the house even in July.
Her new life seemed only a foreview of herself as an old woman, awash in solitude and the feeling of diminishing capabilities.
What actual talents could she claim? All seemed to lead fuller lives than she did.
In comparison, the words this canted landscape spoke were less hushed, harsher.
The thick outer growth of leaves was just a husk enclosing a space like a tiny room.
The coves and ridges and peaks seemed closed and baffling, a good place to hide.
The night was dry and only a little cool.
The moon shed a fine blue light on the woods and fields.
As a tonic for her gloom,
She found herself bent backward over the mossy well lip, canted in a pose with little to recommend it in the way of dignity or comfort, back arched, hips forward, legs spraddled for balance.
She thought she might faint, but suddenly the spinning world caught and held still.
What she saw was a wheel of bright light, a fringe of foliage all around.
Climbing without pause, she found that the rhythm of her walking soon matched up with the tune of Wayfaring Stranger, still chanting itself faintly in her head.
Below her she could see the river and the road, and to her right—a fleck of white in the general green—the chapel.
Skin thin as parchment over the bones.