Academic journal article Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought

Vitae

Academic journal article Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought

Vitae

Article excerpt

Clearing the Farmhouse Attic for My Siblings

Lost stories stir up with the dust,

accented in Swedish: the voyage

and train rides bringing Grandmother west;

another linking Grandpa Lee's drowning

to a card shark and a debt.

Down narrow stairs we maneuver old trunks

and frames, a wooden 'twenties photo viewer.

Gauzy pieces of childhood

hover like last night's drifting dreams,

only an impression they were there

like my long, clear memory of the field pond-

where I believed I'd waded-turning cloudy

when Father said it vanished during dry years

before I was born. He'd mourned it out loud so long,

pointing out that low place in fields,

we all wanted it back.

Is it what we remember or forget

that defines us most, or all we imagine in between?

We wager our days for what seems livelihood

and come to learn the forms of drought.

My father tried to teach us

Know what you can afford to lose

and risk less.

What we presume to discard

hangs over us like reproach.

With hollyhocks that went missing over decades

outside the lichened picket fence,

what's real keeps shifting:

how two brothers wrecked a milk cart;

which Navy uncle gave us nickels for music

at the lodge where Snake River ran,

its blackness at night a current

I'm sure I know:

my father swept downstream, his bay horse

finally swimming him to shore

as he clung exhausted to the saddle-

all before he had us, but I can feel the gasping

against high rapids, smell the fear the horse could smell. …

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