Tag Archives: Rural America

At the Post Office

So full of dreams
like me
a young woman
comes in for keys
I’ll be here for life!
She tells me
through her bright
blue eyes
through her strait
young teeth
I don’t hesitate for
a second
I don’t skip a beat
What’s your lucky number?
I ask her
So we can get you
a box that you like.
We wrangle the woman a
mail square to last a lifetime,
should mail last that long
I swallow the knowledge
of divorce
and betrayl
all stories
my boxes tell
We talk for
over one hour
about the land
our man
our jobs
and plans
the girl’s got
a grand plan
though not
yet a roof
I mean she’s
got a place
it’s dilapidated
and out in
the rain
but I can see
given her stance
that failure doesn’t
stand a chance
like me she’s
banking on
her man
her vision
and most of
all her strength
I withhold from
shouting friend!
Long lost
I withhold from asking
What is your sign?
I’m betting it must be
fire like mine
I simply nod my head
and shake her hand
and wonder if there’s
more in store
for her
for me
for us
for our men
for our stories
for our boxes
for our lives
A young woman
comes in for keys
so full of dreams
like me
I swallow the knowledge
of divorce
and betrayl
all stories
my boxes tell
I keep the faith
and I keep it well
for it is my very own story
that I’m trying to sell


Did I dream her up?
I met her in the vegetable garden. It was sometime near my fifth birthday. I was fingering the dense pumpkin stocks and their broad leaves like wall insulation to the touch–misleadingly soft and cozy. Like a five year old herself.
She appeared there beyond the ripe orange globes.
She stared at me,  reached out to touch the vines.
She was my age. Her eyes spoke to me but her childmouth never moved. I admired her wetsand-colored curls as she told me that we were Identical. That he touched her too. That he came for her when he was done with me, that he came for me when he was done with her. She told me her name was Esther. Before I could respond, he pulled up in his Chevrolet. I crouched down in the path in my Autumn dress. I peeked my eyes above the garden greens as he pointed to the passenger door instructing her to get in. My eyes got big and wet, her dress was caught in the door, they drove down the dirt lane toward Hunter Creek and I shook but it wasn’t cold outside.

Cabin Door

When the cabin door was pulled shut at night I could let out my big breath. I always felt ill at ease when my Dad’s buddies were around and they were always around. Didn’t work. None of ‘em. I wished they would go home to their trailers down the road. And they would for a minute and they would come back and they would invite me and I would say no, talking quietly back to their hot smelly beer breath.

In the day I would go hide by the river and pretend all those things little girls pretend. That they are princesses, mermaids, that they are safe. But when the sun went down Dad said I had to be home at the cabin.

The door of the cabin didn’t lock, exactly. In fact the door handle was a rope with a big fat knot. We had one of those little tiny silver hook locks on the inside of the door and nobody could break that unless they were really, really trying too. No one was out to get us, by any means, but there were a lot of men with wild eyes up there you see. Outlaws. I felt better and safer when the cabin door was shut and my Dad’s friends were locked out for the night.

I wished I had a sister or a brother, big ones, or a mom.

To New Beginnings–and Chasing Dreams

I feel it my duty to portrait this new beginning in my life. For me, new beginnings tend to be commonplace. Just today, while driving the 30-minutes it now takes to get home from work, I resonated with the song Run, Baby, Run by Sheryl Crow. I often press the reset button on my life–choosing new jobs, towns, and boyfriends. As well as new hobbies and even friends. My constants are family, close, dear friends, and the west coast. In the past year I have embraced single hood, a new position at work, a pet freshwater snail, personal refection and self-help (that’s when the therapist didn’t work out), writing connections and discipline (huge, and still need a lot of work in this area), as well as a new living space, on a lake, in the woods. So, actually I don’t think of it so much as running away, but rather chasing a dream. Sometimes Always, when you are chasing a dream, something gets sacrificed along the way. Leaving my boyfriend was a sacrifice. But I have more self work to do. There wasn’t room for him. Sometimes, I think, to find sustainable happiness, or Joy if you will, a person must isolate, and face their mind, and quiet the many distractions of the world.

I fully understand that in one year or four months or, helk, maybe even four weeks I may come to realize that true joy is found in community. That my true path to bliss might have been better accomplished by letting love in. By allowing my, very loving, boyfriend to dote on me and secure me into his loving, healthy family. But my intuition tells me not. My intuition tells me I hold the key.

Me standing at Moonglade Lake, a stone's throw from my new rental in the country
Me standing by Moonglade Lake, a stone’s throw (literally) from my new rental in the country

I told my most cherished co-worker one day, I said, “Mark my words, in six-months I’ll be living out in the country.” I was fed up. I needed a change. I’ve always regarded Nature as my mother. Living in town was just not working. Six weeks later I am sitting by Lake Moonglade, pointing out the reflection of the north star on the water to my new neighbor (and I suspect, friend) Ember, who lives down the creek and through the trees, just barely out of view in her quaint but charming, fifth-wheel trailer. As we sit on boulders by the lake at dusk we watch the north star in all her glory bathing in the sunset. We talk about the joys of solitude, the pains of relationships, we talk about addiction and revelation, politics, children, gardening, simple living, and nature, and for twenty minutes the north star remains lonesome in the sky, having arrived early to work, so-to-speak, like I like to do, to simply enjoy fifteen more minutes of solitude and clarity before the colorful energy of other people crash into me like a wave. And to ring in a new beginning with special blessings, perhaps.

Ember describes to me a trail she built down the gravel lane and up a brook, toward the south hills. She says she loves exploring, which I already knew as I’ve seen her walking the many paths that traverse our land, a rehabilitated logging site known as Star Camp. When she says she’s afraid of mountain lion, I suggest the old “mask trick”, something I’ve never actually tried (maybe I will here) where you wear a Halloween mask backwards to prevent a mountain lion from stalking you. Ember’s face lights up at the suggestion. I realize I’ve met a woman perhaps as passionate, curious, and strange as I am. We sit in silence for a few moments, staring out at Lake Moonglade. Three bats dance over the surface of the water, eating mosquito. A couple of birds (species I do not know yet) finish their supper (of bugs as well) and head back to their tree nests for the night. The multiple species of dragonfly have tuckered out for the night, but in the day they are abundant, showering the land with luck. Behind me a chipmunk scurries across the path, Ember points to it, then upon closer inspection corrects herself–it’s a field mouse, not a chipmunk. A frog hops into the lake. A band of bull frogs make deep, bass-like sounds from the edges of the lake. Discovering that neither of us like snakes, Ember shows me the rocky places where the big ones like to hang out in the day. Thank you, I tell her sincerely.

As the sun all but vanishes and the ombre sky lights up with stars, my new neighbor and I both daydream of picnics together in the grass, or tromping halfway to Walton on the many trails that intersect the hills and logging roads, machete’s in hand–all the while being secretly thankful that there’s enough room on this land for the both of us.

The Ol’ Hometown

There is nothing
I love more
than your morning
stretching out
from the sea
to the hills
and south,
pouring in
the trees
lighting  up
the forest floor
daring the
people to
stumble from
their trailer doors
for pots of coffee
at the Fisherman’s
Restaurant and
for mountain-people
drawl over KCRE

My hometown
watches soggy
bottom toddlers
grow up fast,
JR this JR that

Often people
hit big trees
with their
cars and die

He was a good guy
He was a good guy

We scan the paper
for friends and foe
just drunk and in
the tank or
worse maybe

He was a good guy

Mysterious people
get engaged and
have babies
and they get
their pictures
in the paper
their shining faces
are from out-of-town
and I think
what are they
running from?

They come in
for good jobs
with the city

and never

But every
day they wonder
why not?

Save the sunsets
and sea lions
their aint
much to speak
of here

We All Remember (Cabin Kids)

We all remember
the running and playing
how we cursed darkness
and dinner bells,
tumbling in at
dusk’s very
last moment
before the sky winks the
day goodbye
catching your breath
before the
closed cabin door
waving goodbye,
Johnny, an unassuming boy
hollering have a good night!
buttons burst,
braid unravelled
We all remember
our hair stuck
to our foreheads
or long streams of sweat
dripping down, traveling the
length of our nose,
those ninety-degree
summer nights
We remember our
parents saying
I wish I could bottle
that energy and sell it!
before ashing in their
beer can,
white flakes
on a

Little Girl Me

Little girl me
wore yellow rubber
gloves Dad bought at
Safeway along with Sun
yellow dishsoap
I would knee-stand
on the vinyl and metal
chair in front of the sink
in front of the small trailer
window looking out on the
ducks and geese and rabbits
in their cages
A kerosene lamp was lit
as the sun went down and the
night would come alive with sounds
Almost every night Dad had me do
the dishes while he would read
to me from the Holy Bible
They were nights I enjoyed
and miss.

Bear Mountain

In life, I like hills that are mountains but not so large the average person can’t climb ’em. Mountains not so large they get glaciers and avalanches. Not so high you need special gear. No, in life I like mountains for the Everyday Person. A mountain anyone can get to and d8122de23cc4ad5c30702e910b5a284aenjoy. Mountains with water, because life needs water. And better with water people bottle and call ‘Spring’. In life, I like mountains erupting with life. I like mountains with deer and duck and butterflies and bear. I like mountains with signs. Signs that are brown and green and read ‘Wilderness Area’ or ‘Preserve’. In life, I like places where us animals are free. Flat land is fine and the nose bleeds are few. But in life I like a mountain small enough to climb but large enough to name Bear.

Villains Part II–The Rose Tree

old-door-linda-mcraeOn either side of the front door to the inky, smelly, dilapidated mansion were two hedge plants, taller than a very tall man and as wide as our pick-up. Now, hedge smells a certain way. Hedge smells a helk of a lot better than old folk, chewing tobacco and black coffee in oily mugs. I still lean in and smell a hedge whenever I get the chance, whenever I pass one by. I used to walk out of that smelly house and immediately bury my nose in the hedge.

For me hedge smells like freedom. The way a car radio sounds like freedom. The way my own personal set of apartment keys feels like freedom. The way an attractive man looks like freedom, foolishly. The way a cigarette tastes like freedom. I’d edit the illusions but they are my truths. These are the things in which I have identified freedom. Recognizing their traps and tricks, I have let at least one go. But I shall never let go of the rest.

As soon as the bitter note of hedge would meet my little girl nose I knew I was free. Free until dark. When I had to go back inside.

At first, shell-shocked, I would go as far from the mansion as I could. For a while my little bare legs would take me up creek to a bridge where I’d sit and watch the iridescent water saunter on by me. Hunter Creek. My dad was the first to show me Hunter Creek, of course. My dad showed me enough trails enough times thatart2 I knew how get to my Grandpa John’s house on Fizer Road, about two miles away–both by street and by trail. I also knew how to get to the elementary school and to the mouth of the Klamath River. I could probably get to the Mini-Mart too. I knew the best blackberry patches and where to find a mud bog so thick it could pass for quicksand. I told a couple boys in my first-grade class about the quicksand but they didn’t believe me. Boys were always challenging me. They thought I lied about things. The boys would stare at me for a good long while before excluding me from their games of kickball and football and other boy sports. I was always stuck between the boys and the girls but more drawn to the boy games and the boy talk. The playground attendant would tell me ‘you can’t play football ’cause you’ll scrape up your bare knees even worse. Come over here and play with the girls.’ Later I would stop wearing dresses and only wear jeans and stir-ups. As means to play with the boys.


Despite all the special places my dad showed me, places he’d gone to “when he was a boy”, I finally found my special place–a rose tree right in front of the mansion. It was a place where me and my best friend and cat, Kitty Rose, could both go. And dummies never saw us there. Hiding in plain sight, she and I, up in The Rose Tree.

The Rose Tree had a trunk about as big a’ round as my dad and branches as thick as necks. The bark was smooth and dusty. Until I met The Rose Tree I thought roses only grew on bushes. I also thought ‘every rose had it’s thorn’ that’s because I heard the song ‘Every Rose Has It’s Thorn’. So when we first started goin’ up there I would be weary, always looking for thorns. But there just weren’t any. Talk about magic.

I’d watch the old folk walk by, Kitty Rose and I perched at the top of The Rose Tree. The villains would mutter to themselves and look out to the fields, the hillside, the barn. They were looking for something, and I always wondered what. I knew it wasn’t me ’cause I didn’t matter til bedtime.