“Homestead” by Alice Pettway

Alice Pettway


They took the cabin apart
log by log and moved it
down the mountain

so the lake could wash
in the windows
and out the mouths

of their daughter and son, 
carved numbers in the beams 
before carrying them away

so the wood could come back 
together again into a house
and not accidentally 

a boat or a tall tree. 
The girl and boy played 
games hiding toys 

in the cracks between logs, 
finding them again using clues 
written in the wet sand 

by the porch where the robins 
wandered as the snow turned 
pink on the mountains.

At night new syllables 
rushed whitecapped across 
the children’s tongues, 

flowing from one pillow 
to the other. Outside
the bedroom door, 

their parents marveled
at how quickly water 
cuts through earth.

from Rattle #70, Winter 2020


Alice Pettway: “In the last ten years, I’ve lived on four continents. The experience has challenged and inspired me. Last spring, though, the constant movement finally started to take a toll. I retreated to Lake Clark, Alaska, to spend six weeks as a Chulitna Artist Fellow, hoping to discover a larger structure or meaning in my experiences, I think. Both escaped me. But I found some words, and that was enough.” (web)

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