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My sisters and dad and I.
This is my dad and I in front of a cabin in Yellowstone Park.
Family Reunion, Off the Grid
We find the key to the lake cabin
there where it always was above the eaves trough,
enter that family space deserted for so many years
and claim our old rooms.
Bring in firewood piled on the porch thirty years ago
and draw together at the trestle table
over dinners gathered
from the ice chests in the trunks of cars.
Dependent for so many years
on cell phones, e-mail and Facebook,
we grow listless over the loss of cell tower and wifi,
fall back on family videos from the far past,
and having exhausted that sparse shelf,
resort to family albums, dusty with accumulated years.
Over those cryptic signals from the past,
we begin to remember more,
and recall scraps of ourselves
that give a meaning to the name of scrapbook.
With no single screens possible,
we draw together over simple common images.
Dad in the neighbor lady’s hat,
sis in diapers and my mother’s heels,
my tea towel sarong and doily hat,
Mother, young enough to be our granddaughter,
in a stylish hat tipped down over one eye,
Middle sister standing triumphant at the top
of the slide she later fell from the top of—
a past truth I might have never known
if not sealed up, like this,
away from the wider world
and those parts of ourselves
that keep flying off to it.
I take her hand, grateful for her survival.
Just the two of us, now,
everyone else sealed up in this peeling album.
We put them to sleep again as we close its cover.
In the morning, restore the key,
nestle the “For Sale” sign more securely
into its mooring place and divide to our separate worlds,
the box of videos under my arm,
the family scrapbooks under hers.
The prompt words are past, video, listless and dependent.