a red thread that pulled us
from our play. My mother watched,
a logger's wife, her life
waiting for the telephone's
alarming ring. Her fear
caught in my throat. At three
I followed her from room
to room, her pregnant looming body
hushing questions, "Will you die,
Will you die?" I dreamed our house
burning as I stood, sinewy among alder switches
growing on the clearcut hill
while flames licked boards known to me
as my own bones. I woke
one midnight to see my father
knit among burning trees--
were these visions dredged from a pond
of dream? Real?
What siren called out from those woods,
drew our four generations
to trudge in their caulk boots
its wet winters, its summers struggling
with fire for an acre of trees?
that white car never carried my father down.
August hoot-owl days alive,
alive as everything, bigger than movie cowboys.
He sat on the cement stoop
to children wrestling
over the unlacing of his boots, tousled
our red- and tow-heads. Father,
Mother, the growl for supper and later
the quarreling of dishes in a settling house.