Where My Story Begins

With the Chilcotin horse trader
rolling into our yard, pulling a bust up trailer,
and how Mother said she could feel the pinto ponies,
their noses on the window bars, humming 
in their spotted throats: keep us, keep us.

At the graveside when the ropes break
and father’s walnut coffin slams
down into that six foot deep
and how I never want to know
how his poor dead body is shook from the fall.

On the mountain meadow
lit with willow, alpine spruce and fir,
clear oxbow pools,
and glacial air, sharp as whiskey,
and us, wild and giddy with it.

With the thimble babies
that left the house in the night,
brothers and sisters that never
quite took, but we loved them anyway,
like we loved the eggs in the hatcher:
for the mystery of them.

With Rolland at the game,
sitting on the hood of his ‘56 Buick,
and him, walking towards the concession,
his shoulders wide and bony,
outlined by the yoke of the red & white
cowboy shirt his mother had made
and was always a bit off kilter, but I didn’t say.

At the one room Anglican church
where we wait for no cars coming
then creep into the gloom, 
stretch out like we’re dead, each in our own pew, 
pray loudly to the ceiling for Juicy Fruit, Oh Henrys,
Chicken Bones, Sen Sens,
a swimming pool in the back yard,
and for God not to remember our faces.

This poem appeared in Honeymoon Bay anthology,
July 2013, edited by Patrick Lane.