Sunday, June 26, 2022


Life in the Winnebago
Had its own routines. The milk,
As it suited their mother,

Was Carnation powdered mix,
An awful, grainy slurry,
Supposedly saving space

In the tiny fridge unit,
Plus money for traveling.
They will realize later

That’s just part of their mother’s
Nostalgia for her childhood,
Which rules so much of the trip—

Stops to the family farm,
Now subdivided and sold,
Visits to far-flung siblings,

Great aunts, and second cousins,
Most of whom they’ve never met
Before and won’t meet again.

During the Great Depression,
As a small girl on that farm,
Mom had milk when the cow did,

Powdered milk when it didn’t.
Good enough for her must mean
Good enough for her kids, too,

A rule she always follows
When in doubt, rule that has lead
To odd anachronisms

And strange juxtapositions,
Such as McGuffey’s Readers
Surrounding the TV set

And gulping down powdered milk
While roaming in an RV.
Nostalgia and religion

Are indistinguishable.
They say grace crowded around
Each campsite picnic table

And sing The Little Brown Church
In the Vale passing through woods
And meadows cut by highways.

This too, the children later
Will realize, is just part
Of a kind of reaction

Formation long preceding
Their mother’s birth, extending
Past her death, to changing times.

A half-century later,
Weirder anachronisms
Will obtain—like slick websites

Aimed at evangelicals
With lyrics and sheet music
For old gospel hymns and boxed

McGuffey’s Readers reprints
Re-edited by Christian
Publishers, for homeschooling.

But that’s another future
For now, while the oldest child
Dreams of living on spaceships

By then, and the younger kids
Join their mother in singing
A Mighty Fortress, rolling

Through the Plains States and reading
Little House on the Prairie,
Bedtimes at the KOA.

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