the museum of americana

a literary review

Two Poems by Carrie La Seur

Huntley Butte

The roof fell in while I was away at grad school

Soft pine timbers gave under

snow, raccoons and the insults of time

swing low the house of my great-grandparents

swing low

 

A low dry ridgeline from Absarokee to Columbus

guards the bones of the homestead

the dust of my ancestors’ blood and sweat

In the hard years, they were all hard years

we took odd jobs, never even

 

We’ve been:

truckdrivers

and cowboys

shepherds

midwives

marines

and roughnecks

seasonal hands

at the sugar beet plant

 

Now a guy from Flagstaff wants

to buy us out at $250 an acre

Swing low

the house of my great-grandparents

swing low. Still, for a while we had

 

this: the broadest piece of sky

640 acres of dry land to prove up

a house

draft horses named Greta and Charlie

the beginnings of pride

 

 

*

 

 

 

Trailer Trash

There’s an awning anyway

We sit with our feet in the sun but our heads out

watching traffic on Shiloh

and the vet across the street

hauling loads in a pickup

worth more than Dad’s trailer

 

I always come home

Flew in this time

that daredevil approach to the Rims

because I’ll be driving out

piloting the Crown Vic

up from the valley floor

 

My mother was born here

They say that’s what counts

where the egg that became you

came into being

nurtured on chokecherries

and the incense of sweetgrass

 

A few things I won’t sell

The vultures keep asking

what I want for Grandpa’s tools

the bamboo fly rod

my heritage

my heart

 

Dad sits quietly

 

on a lawn chair

crushing ants

with a white sneaker

his cowboy hat

low

the t-shirt thin, and a smell

on him, like death

 

 

~~~

Carrie La Seur is a recovering environmental lawyer and author of two award-winning, critically acclaimed novels from William Morrow (The Home Place, 2014 and The Weight of an Infinite Sky, 2018). Her poetry, short stories, essays, book reviews, and law review articles appear in the Guardian, Harvard Law and Policy Review, Inscape, Kenyon Review, Mother Jones, Rappahannock Review, Rumpus, Salon, and more. She lives in Montana.