She was named for a cousin and
forever afterward felt
the premise and
the setting on of hands, of
1 hand most especially, which
was, in fact, never laid upon any fragment
of her flesh
nor came anywhere near
was a memory of others, a figment,
and what was that to
possess and pet?
Cousin Carrie, for Carrie's mother,
was the heroine who took the Northwest in her passion
fashioned it anew, took it like a frightened bird
out of the jaws of forgetting and serrated ignorance
which would have torn it, shredded it to waste and
profit she took it and
in her hands, her square, heavy, long-fingered
hands which feared nothing, acknowledged nothing
beyond her desires and intent, not
even fear that whispers round the close
spreading the tar of evil upon the stones.
She, of well-fleshed shoulders and striding
thighs penetrated sitkas, hemlocks, cedars
and young pines and never discouraged them
by word or tool and caught by method uncontained,
transfiguring, the brown bears, owls, seals
and foxes, the deer and karst droplets of the
secret depths of Tongass, mixed into the coiling
winds and told the tides their number, flux,
and histories from Japan to Mexico.
She knew them. She took them into
herself where crucibles of mighty transformation
were gentle, uncannily
gentle, and their essence was spun forth
glistening and lasting, new
and enviable, and the people knew they held
a precious thing.
Carrie held her galleries in
her heart as she milked the goats and cows
of her girlhood.
She walked upon the cliffs stark standing above
a crashing sea which was an ocean called pacific
by the hopeful, it would
the mapmakers waxing
warm and ruddy, sanguine and voluble
makers of maps
as though they could
be creators of what was there; they
Her full skirts blew in the moist spring winds in
sunshine yellow as mustard when the waters were like
blue lupine. They billowed and snapped about
her and she bent to stroke the bony heads and
cup the tender muzzles for the seeking brown
eyes of her friends spoke tales as wondrous
and varied as the sails glimpsed far out beyond
the rocky islands whose coldness sheltered
rookeries. The birds were above like talismans.
Carrie milked and made cheeses in Marin
pressing the whey through clean cloths with
her pink capable hands while tresses crossed
her full white throat.
She milked, made cheeses, pitched alfalfa and barley; she
traveled once to Shohomish with her father.
He sang or was silent and
smoked a pipe once on Sundays.
stared in disbelief possibly silenced
by the inordinate waste she
had witnessed like the flap of a broken sloop's
jib but more like
the sad dusty weight of curtain for a sour
stage. Carrie saw it and laughed again.
what else could she do, Rose indicated with
that movement of shoulder there, at the joint,
which was particular to her coming from chintz-safe
rooms and bordered carpets, Carrie
being what she was.
what was that? I wondered mightily that
1st time but not only then. What