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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 10, Number 1, March 2016

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Ray Rasmussen
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


Advice for My Parents

funeral service—
a basket
of unripe fruit

In the faded photo, the newlyweds are standing near a cabin nestled in the woods. She’s leaning toward him as if looking for protection from a bear that might be lurking. He’s looking away, as if unsure how to pose with his new wife.

She’s nineteen, one year out of a San Francisco orphanage, never having left the city until now. He’s thirty, raised in a small town in the Washington backwoods. Her parents were Italian immigrants—home builders who died in the Spanish Flu epidemic. His were Danish—hunters, fishermen, foresters.

I want to tell him, “Don’t do it—she’ll bear and love your children, but she was groomed to be a nun, dreams of being a singer, hasn't learned to cook and hates housekeeping. She’s emotional, will yell and cry more than you can bear.”

And her, “Don’t do it—he’ll be stable, a good provider, but he’s remote, raised with silent Danes as role models. At fifteen he gave up his dreams of college and became a surrogate father-provider to his siblings. He'll be a man of few words, your marriage will be a silence you'll find unbearable.”

I remember one battle in particular. Over the usual dinner of pasta in tomato sauce, her voice is raised, full of anger and frustration with her usual lament about how much time he spends away with his fishing pals. He’s silent, head down, eating. I’m shoveling in the pasta, wanting to escape to play with my pals. As I head out the door, I hear her yell, “If you’re going to go, at least take your son. He’s never once gone fishing with you!”

graveyard visit—
someone hums her favourite song,
a fishing lure for him

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