Twenty years ago, Cora Pooler, a young Amish woman, abandoned a newborn child in the village of Wander Lane. Her deed was discovered and reported to the sheriff—and then to Bishop Herrfort. Because Cora was unwilling to repent and would not explain the circumstances of her actions, she was shunned.
In Cora Pooler, author Dottie Rexford tells the story of Cora's return to Wander Lane after twenty years of living in the English world. Not only is she faced with finding out what happened to her baby, but she vows to resolve the mystery of her sister's untimely death. Will Aaron welcome her back? Is he married or still free? What about Daniel in her English world? Can she forget him? Does she really want to forget him? Cora knows she needs to decide whether she is part of the Amish world or the one she created for herself among the English.
Cora Pooler is a compelling story of a divided heart, aching to find truth and resolution. Rexford captures the longings and emotions that belong to all who seek deep and rich relationships, all who doubt and seek answers, and all who seek to be whole.
I reached the place where the road turned and the hill lifted a little, a respite from dark, for from there the glowing lights of Wander Lane illuminated the night. I stopped and looked down at them. And I remembered It was on this hill, on a night such as this, dark and somber, I had stopped, rested a moment, got my bearings, tried to think rationally, and then, holding my thickly blanketed bundle tight against my chest, my sight impaired by a thick, impeding darkness, I sent a hurried prayer to God and continued my laborious trek down the hill. My feet stumbled on the dark graveled road, and I moved quickly … step, step, step … in a fast, awkward dance striving to keep my balance. Pressing my lips in a tight grim smile, I nodded my head. I was still upright.. “We'll make it, Sweetie, we'll make it,” I whispered into the night. There were no stars to guide me. A menacing mass of charcoal gray clouds hung heavy over the fields and trees and road. I was grateful for the occasional bursts of cold wind. Though they whipped my skirt sharp against my legs, the surges of blowing air parted the threatening clouds and hollowed space for slivers of soft glowing moonlight to slip through and give me solid glimpses of the shadows and shapes around me. The way to the small village seemed far to me that night. So many times I had walked this road with my baskets of eggs, baked goods and, sometimes, vegetables, hoping to sell fresh edibles to the English grocer. Knowing the quality of Amish fare, he usually bought all I could carry. But those were trips made in daylight with the sky bright above me and the road easily seen. Happy trips. Profitable trips. Joyfully singing, arms bent, body swaying, I would walk home, triumphant with empty baskets swinging from wrist to e1bow. That night as I left the village and returned home, my arms would hang sad, heavy though my load was gone. In the dusky gloom it was hard to keep my bearings. Placing my feet quickly and carefully, I willed myself forward into the dark. I walked by instinct and memory. And need. “Shall I sing to you, little girl?” I crooned, holding black images at bay. “Did her songs reach into your ears as you lay within the womb? Do you know her voice? Does it ring clear and true?” I kept my words soft as I walked. “Will you miss her? Will you remember?” Even in these sleeping hours, I was afraid someone might find me, that there might be others stirring in the dark air around me … stroking a calving cow, walking off a bad dream, seeking a touch from a stealthy lover. Someone who might hear the rustle of my skirts or feel the swing of my hips moving the air. Someone who might smell my fear. I could not be seen. I could not be found. It would be the same as death. The road leveled for a bit, then rose. The baby stirred in my arms as I walked to the top of the incline. Heaving a sigh of relief, I looked down at the glow of lampposts circling my destination. The light illuminated the streets and scarce shops of the small village with a soft yellow haze. I stopped and shifted the bundle in my arms. Lifting a corner of the protecting blanket, I bent my head and gently kissed the baby's tiny exposed cheek. Quickly I covered her again. The breeze was too cool; my burden, to precious. I stood there a bit, knowing the danger of prolonging the time of my journey, but dreading its end. “Oh, sweet baby,” I whispered, “what are we doing? Oh, baby, why did we come?” There was no choice, I thought. God, where are You? Why do You not give me another way? I walked again. One step. Then another. I felt tears everywhere inside my body. It was almost over. The physical task. But the deed, the harrowing thing to be done, would go on forever … would never leave me. Looking down at the bundle in my arms, I spoke so softly, so gently. “I'm going to give you a name, sweet child. Before I leave you, before I go forever not to see you, I'm going to look full in your face and remember you every day of my lift. Annabelle. You are Annabelle. No matter what they call you later, you always will be Annabelle.” I held the baby tight to my heart and walked down into the village.
Dottie Rexford graduated from SUNY at Fredonia with a degree in English. She won 1st place in the 2014 Writer's Digest Self-Published Awards, inspirational category, for her novel, Cora Pooler, and the 2013 Royal Palm Literary Awards in the categories women's fiction (unpublished) and book of the year (unpublished).
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