icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle


I Am When I See

The way the wind where I grew up blew through the corn, rattling like crickets
The fireplace behind our house on Summit where we crawled in & looked up to try to see stars during the day
The treehouse it took 3 years to cobble together enough boards to build
Jim Lowell our milkman who would let us kids ride in his Lakeside Dairy truck, very slowly to the corner, standing up in a moving vehicle
Hank Williams singing “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”
Sam Cooke singing “I’m on The Firing Line”
Johnny Cash singing “Cocaine Blues,” a record that puzzled me when I was 10.
   “I took a shot of cocaine” was easy: I knew about shots of whiskey,
   but what could he mean “I thought I was her daddy but she had 5 more”?
The sweet desserts of Krishna feast
Wanting a horse
Not knowing it was dorky to be from South Dakota
Hitchhiking—never knowing what would happen
The first day of summer vacation
Peonies along our driveway
The summer I documented with Polaroids everyone who came to my house
Going away for a weekend & staying away 2 months
My youthful good looks
Getting to get out of bed & eat strawberries when Grandma arrived late from England
Channel 11’s yule log
My mother’s yule log before she got so Jewish—my dad gave it to her the first year they were married in case she longed for Christmas. Thick red candles, white birch
My tenth birthday when we were snowed in
Edmund & Anselm at ages 7 & 9
Edmund sitting on my lap till he was so tall his feet touched the ground
Anselm remembering every baseball stat before it happened
Wanting to play 3rd base for the Yankees
A seder at the South Dakota State Pen when my brother was a law student
   you never saw so many Jews materialize at the promise of steak.
   I got half a dozen marriage proposals out of it
Cruising up Phillips & down Main, through the Barrell Drive-In on Minnesota Ave
My first car, a ’50 Dodge flathead 6—called Ernest
My ’54 Ford F-100 pickup—LeRoy, a good ol’ boy, dependable as a penny
My ’65 white Ford Falcon van that my boyfriend and I put in the engine from a ’63 Comet
My “bamboo beige” ’70 Datsun 510—Little Nip
My smashed-in Pontiac LeMans, I think a ’75 (owned only briefly)
My beloved ’73 Ford LTD, Ford Madox Ford, painted pink, green & aqua and with lines from poems— given at last to Eileen, her first car
Even Harris’s stupid ’75 Celica rustbucket
My ’82 Toyota Corolla-Tercel—Yellow Bird (named by Diane)
A pickup I got a ride from once, a ’52 Chevy,
   the guy had been shot or something, he had a scar on his back,
   I loved him a little, we talked through the night
A guy I got a ride from who played a tape of one side all Hey Jude
   the other side all Me & Bobbie McGee
   the only 2 songs he liked
A pair of black motorcycle boots I had in 1971. The only shoes I wore for a year
The Purple Moth cabins on the Bangor road
A surprise birthday party when I was 16 & the boy I liked came
Driving to Ocean City with Maggie & Rachel
Driving anywhere with anyone
A supermarket in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1972
My neighbor Lucky’s perfect presents that he spent all year scouting catalogues and saving to buy out of his SSI pittance
Sherri’s fresh-baked bread after a walk in the falling snow
The cabin on Flying Moose Mountain in East Holden, Maine, where I lived one winter
   & read Chaucer by the light of a kerosene lantern,
   without electricity or a radio or even a clock,
   just me & my cats. I thought I’d try being a saint
My cats Gita, Moksha, Banjo, Willie & Psycho
Pepper, Dreidel, Nicky & various communal dogs
Shooting pool in a bar in Hoquiam, Washington, with a girl I met the summer before in Colorado. She’d lived in a station wagon with 3 or 4 dogs & her boyfriend who never wore shoes. I was a terrible pool player but kept winning because the guys kept scratching, they wouldn’t let me quit. Her name was Gail & she was self-conscious about being 25 when we were all 20.
Sleeping in the basement of Tree Stump Leather, where I was an apprentice cobbler for a year
My boyfriend J. D. Flowers whose father had been on a chain gang in Georgia
Dancing boys
Twin Bings
“our song”
The Who in John Topf’s red schoolbus in Boulder, organ like the voice of god as I came to in the dawn
Jogging with Debbie by Sioux Falls College, talking more than running
Cars with the keys left in
Car games, like spotting license plates & guessing mileage & Slug Bug
Singing in the car. My sister Lindsay’s favorite song:
    Oh, I went for a ride in the country
    & what do you think I saw
    I saw a donkey eating hay
    Hee haw hee haw hee haw
Camp Teepeetonka
Camp songs: Kumbaya, Michael Row the Boat Ashore, Blowin’ in the Wind, Hangman, Mandee Was a Little Bahama Girl, Tell Laura I Love Her
Calling bad boys “rinks”
A joke I made up in 2nd grade:
   How did Henry Ford get ahead?
   He was born with one
A joke I was responsible for spreading at Edison that I got from Maureen Carlson who went to Patrick Henry:
    Think real hard that you’re a boy.
    Really takes a load off your chest, doesn’t it?
Snowdrifts over my head
My dad sending me valentines every year
My birthday in Honduras in 1981
Rent-a-wrecks & drive-aways & cross-country favors
My first trip to the East Coast, when I was 19, bedazzled most of all by road signs & accents
Playing Yahtzee in Huron instead of going to the State Fair
The really good onion rings at Babe’s, a Mafia restaurant I was once taken to in Des Moines
The start of certain romances, especially with P----, when we were both surprised to find out “you’re Chanukah?” “I’m Chanukah!”
Poring over the Baseball Encyclopedia with my cousin Mark, inventing careers & lives from a line or two of numbers
Breakfast in bed
Post a comment