Maren O. Mitchell

I’m from the hunger of my father’s parents in Norway, passed down to their six
children, shaped by my maternal grandmother’s blindness to abuse, from hundreds

of my parents’ books—Austen to Gibran to Halliburton—the music my mother
bathed in, Bach’s celestial math, Mozart, the Shakespeare of sound, and from

my father’s love of horses, breathing equine sculptures, exuding musk, carrying
me to places I can’t go now, from eating immortal Velveeta, lifeless iceberg

lettuce with miraculous Miracle Whip on plastic white bread that stays
with me still—low in nutrition, high in intention; house after house, always oak

or pine arms to escape up into. I was the blue circularity of my Hoola Hoop,
waist crown of puberty, and I’m certain I was the last cringing girl in my seventh

grade to beg her mother for a bra, whether I needed it or not. I am from the sustenance
of those summer mountains laced with guideposts: shy Indian Ghost Pipes, rough

rhododendron hideouts under which my sister, brother and I crouched trying to smoke
rhododendron cigars that didn’t burn and didn’t stink, from mica mosaics under feet

in the promises of cold gossiping creeks, animal tracks to be deciphered
lives later, and the sum of all smells melded into a call I must always answer.

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