Pat Garber’s new book of poetry and prose, “The View from the Back of a Whale,” could also be dubbed “Little Gems.”
These vignettes sparkle with vivid imagery, wisdom and humor. These are glimpses into her soul, pieces to savor and contemplate. The book is available in the OPS Museum, the Island Ragpicker, the Variety Store, Books to Be Red and various spots up the beach.
A writer and poet, the peripatetic Garber calls Ocracoke Island home most of the year.
She first became enamored of the written word through poetry when, as a child, her mother read Shelley and Wordsworth to her.
Those cadences distilled inside her mind while she grew up in a loving family in rural Short Pump, Virginia, and absorbed the wonders of the natural world, family life and relationships through the passage of time.
Not one to wait, Garber began writing poetry as a child and at the age of 9, had a rhyming poem about the sky titled “What Is It Like?” published in the Virginia State Library’s children’s poetry collection, “The Voice.”
Garber’s words paint striking visuals laced with musings on the meanings she gleans from nature and personal triumphs and tragedies. Life and death in the natural world, a caterpillar struggling to construct its cocoon, otters cavorting in the marsh near her Ocracoke Island home, her pets, memories of childhood. All are fodder for her curious mind.
There are remembrances of her parents (while growing up and at the end of their lives), trying to make sense of her sister’s fight with cancer, lost loves, struggles to find where she fits in the world.
A sampling of journal entries from 1984 when she moved to Ocracoke until 2018 will give the viewer a taste of life on this island, including what it’s like to stay during a hurricane.
Garber’s voice capably captures the feelings and struggles all human beings share.
These are gems to return to again and again to glean more from their prismatic depths.
The poem below is one in the grouping of poems titled A Pocketful of Diamonds “….written over many years, forms a portrait of my childhood life in Short Pump, Virginia. I presented (the collection) to my parents on their 60th wedding anniversary in 1998.”
on the top rail of the fence
overlooking the back field day succumbs
to the seductive wiles of darkness.
Rubbing your horse Blaze’s ears
as he leans his head against your leg,
listening to the first notes
of the evensong of
you’ll be late for supper again
you’d better hurry! but the Prince of Dusk
has commandeered you
and the magical notes of his haunting song
require that you stay
and pay homage
to the night.
Among Pat Garber’s books to be found in shops all over the island are two volumes of her columns from the erstwhile Island Breeze, “Ocracoke Odyssey” and “Ocracoke Wild;” several children’s books; and a volume of her great grandfather’s Civil War diary. Garber is a regular contributor to the Ocracoke Observer.