Thursday, April 21, 2011

NaPoWriMo #16: family history

So, I'm still behind--by even more, now. I've been tired this week and have had to cut back where I could (sorry, Ruth). But I'm still committed to this, and am not giving up (not yet!)

Today's poem started coming to me when I woke up at 6 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep. I've been working at it off and on all morning. It feels like there are still some pieces that may be missing, but I don't know what they are. Maybe a whole other poem? We'll see. But here's the piece that makes sense now.

Gold Rush

In August 1897
my great-great-grandfather
left Seattle aboard the steamer Rosalie
made his way north with the horde
in what he called
“the great race for gold”
by way of Skagway, the Dyea Trail
Sheep Camp, Chilkoot Pass
Lake LeBarge, Yukon River
finally reaching Dawson City
later that October.

He kept a diary, wrote
how he learned the use of gum boots
was to keep his feet not dry, but warm
how he paid 75 cents at Sheep Camp
for a meal of bacon and beans
hot biscuits and coffee
how he missed his son and two daughters
those “dear ones” left behind
how he packed boat lumber on his back
up Chilkoot Pass
rather than pay five cents on the pound
for a packer to do it.

The diary stops after January 11, 1898.

What he didn’t write was
how his wife returned with the children
to her parents in Massachusetts
before the end of 1897
how he worked as a clerk in Dawson
even after staking his claim
how he went south after the gold rush
worked as an architect in California
married again twice
how he mailed the diary
to his youngest daughter
but never saw her again
how he counted the cost
of the load he chose
one he couldn’t pay someone else
to carry.

1 comment:

helgaruth said...

I get what you mean about it feeling like there's something missing. I wouldn't know what to tell you but I love what you have.