(Laura Ingalls Wilder & Rose Wilder Lane Portion of This Book)
“Two women life their skirts over the blue ocean
Rose picks up a stone, wave – smoothed,
aches with the possibility and the waste in bending
for beauty. Waves crash. Her hands shake
as if holding a carton of raspberries
she’ll never taste. Her knees wobble.
You wanted a house next door filled with children.
Mama, I’m sorry. I can’t.
You have no cause to be sorry. Rose, I understand.
No one understands!
That’s what I thought when I had a baby
who died at twelve days old.
Mama digs her toes into sand
that the fierce sea sucks back. Pebbles clatter.
My mother lost a son, too.
Three generations, we all lost baby boys.
I didn’t know.
You were just three, twoo young to remember
that poor baby, sick right from the start.
We never even named him.
It was just before the house burned down.
Mama, what happened that day?
Rose can’t forget the blazes, blame,
the stench of burning chairs, china, and dresses.
Memory is a acrobat: With each spin and tumble
new pictures shift into view.
There’s more she wants to say;
Am I a terrible wife? Can I do anything right?
That fire was nobody’s fault. Mama wrings cold
salty water from her skirt.
She slips her shoes back on,
not bothering to shake out the sand.”