My father was born in Minnesota. They called him Frosty. His real name was Forrest Adolphus. My father’s mother died giving birth to his younger brother. A year later the baby, Cameron, also died. He died on the train that was taking him to Canada to live with relatives. That left my father, who was four years old at the time, and his brother who was six. And their father, who took them both to the train station so they could see a train. But when it left he was on it. Just like Cameron. At sixteen my father ran away to Montana.
Decades later my younger sister decided to go to school in Minnesota. We all went to settle her in.
“Frosty especially loved his dad. He would crawl into his lap every chance he got” it was explained to us. There was still a witness. Five kids and thirty years of marriage later, his Aunt Ida talked about the day of the train.
My mother said, “That explains a lot.”
My father didn’t talk much. He had an eighth-grade education, the soul of a poet and a really great sense of humor. On one of my visits home we went on a horseback ride together. During the comfortable silence of that two-hour ride a plane flew overhead. Pointing at it he said, “There’s civilization com’n.”
Yeah. I really liked him.
Maybe this is the way
Broncos bucking like dancers
twisting and reaching for the skies
—try to hold on
He stared out a dark window in the egg room
—“Did I ever show you a photo of my mother?”
Never a stray word
—never a faithless horse
always the back of a train moving away
Wisdom like a poet
—gum stuck to the dashboard
the big tease
one of a kind, a dying breed
Inherit a calendar that’s out of date
—a rodeo’s that’s over
and ropes that flew like a plane
We look to haunted skies
—he said kiss me
He isn’t haunted anymore
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