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 wood–burning 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.