Conesville, 1978

The cabin was built by the hands of 
                                                                                 four men, one of them her father. She was young  
when the house was erected: pigtails, Keds, a flowery skirt. 

They didn’t have much. The couch came from the waiting area of  
                             an airline; one of the men was an airline mechanic. Their dining table was an  
old Formica one with metal chairs, vinyl cushions. 

She found it hard to breathe. Not just from her allergies—pollen, chocolate, fresh fruit—but from 
                                           the air itself. It was so dry the air was translucent. Her mother put a kettle 
full of water on the woodburning stove: steam would enter 
                                                                  the air. Droplets clung to the back of her throat, desperate. 

There was no electricity or running water. Years later, they would have power but still 
       no water. She entertained herself. The tree out front was a white birch. The bark peeled 
off like skin. Almost too easily. A canvas for her creations. 

Wood walls were rough, not sanded. Easy to get splinters. The cabin was one floor, the main 
        level. Everyone slept together in the loft, a communal area with mattresses sprawled 
across the floor. She liked to light the lanterns, have conversations with the pirouetting shadows.  
                                                                                                                They taught her how to dance.

On the front porch, her mother hung a battery-powered lantern. The shocking kind. To keep 
                                                                                        the mosquitos and bugs at bay. Every morning, she rose  
when the sun did. She would go sit on the front porch 
                  and rip the wings off deceased moths. Powdery scales like gunpowder on her fingertips. 
When she was done, she’d brush her hands on her skirt, then run  
                                                                                     behind the house to play by the stream.