Missouri River, Great Falls, Montana, February, 1929
Poetry by Leland Seese
I listened every time you told the tale, Mom. An April frost might prompt you, or crossing unfamiliar rivers on a car trip.
You’d say the current pulled the boy beneath a barrier of ice no rescue crew could crack with axes. I could almost hear the frozen river groan.
When you were five, Grandma ran off with another man. Grandpa wrestled scratchy woolen tights on you & set you on a barstool to entertain the men who drank with him.
You never spoke of Grandma till your bed-rest days, past 90, cocooned in blankets even in the summer heat. A different woman strode into your stories then,
beloved high school girlfriend who shared her bed with you whenever Grandpa Full of booze, mistook me for my mother… She rescued you & kept you safe as if behind a barrier of ice,
shielded from the hands of men.
Leland Seese's poems appear or are forthcoming in RHINO, The Stonecoast Review, Rust + Moth, Amuse-bouche (Lunch Ticket), and many other journals. His debut chapbook, Wherever This All Ends, was released in 2020 (Kelsay Books). He and his wife live in Seattle, where they are foster-adoptive and bio parents of six.