Portland Review Vol. 63

Page 122

The Ghosts of Western Women Lynn Mundell creak the floorboards late at night. Their hands pull the quilts off my sleeping back, so I’ll grow cold and then tough, as they were. They, who gentled horses and then sold them, buried their husbands, some in graves, crossed borders trailed by little children, hungry, easily overpowering their own fear. Mornings they push their way into my commuter train, muttering over the miles of strip malls, pavement, eight-lane freeway. Sometimes we see the California they once knew, plain green hills dotted with new calves, a hawk motionless on a fence post. Then it’s gone, a postcard to be saved until it fades to nothing. They follow me around my heated office building, and I can almost hear their spurs jingle impatiently to the time of the copier, feel their bony fingers poke my soft middle during noon Pilates. At the weekend farmers market, I consider a one-dollar apple, and I can hear their laughter on the wind as they upset a pile of Gravensteins in my wake. Fruit shouldn’t cost anything, if you would just climb the fences, find the trees, take it. They whisper and I ignore them, for they

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