The Girl They Hired from Snow Country

Kathleen Hellen

Carry me, I said,

clutching at the hemp

too good to throw away — her rough kimono,

my sling my stink my blanket.

My father asks if I remember: The strong back,

my radar bouncing off the mountain of her shoulder,

how absence nursed me,

my mother happy to be rid of tadpoles, the others

flushed in buckets. My sister eating mud,

pulling out her hair, counting backwards.

She carried me all day until it rained so hard

the ghosts showed up. Carry me, they said.

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