Un Petite Memoir


We bumped over dirt roads

In the Plymouth, in ‘51

To sand dunes

Stretched under afternoon sun

Like the huge flanks of a unicorn

Or a great bear. I sat between my parents;

They were still young, their hair dark,

Jack Benny on the radio.

“Who put that trombone

In my potato salad?”

He asked

And I laughed and laughed

And they laughed too,

Rolling me over the sand.


Once they were having cocktails

In the old adobe.

I was in a state of longing

For long hair, pulled a red t-shirt

Over my head

And skulked past them, grinning

And said,

“Signs of Romance!” to my mother

Because that was the title of a story

In one of her magazines.

She threw her head back and laughed

Her Irish belly laugh

And my father chuckled

And I felt loved.


Tonight in an old box I find


The photograph of a Hopi man,

A postcard writing to the one year-old me

By my father:

“How do you like this Indian, honey?” he wrote,

Signing x’s for kisses

Next to his name.


When I went home to visit

My father held up his hand, saying

“We are in the twilight.”

He stood stirring a dutch oven-full

Of chile even though

His lungs had given way.

Mother sat in a chair every evening,

Half-conscious, dreaming the desert

And even in illness managed Christmas,

Gathered up old quilts, silver-plate

From antique shops in the mountains.



I find old photographs

That show all of us looking

Quizzically at the camera

From the time when we belonged

To each other.