Third Cousins in Norway
I would have been the one who stayed
behind. Timid, afraid of oceans
choosing familiar over precarious
caring for parents and sickly aunts
safer than uncertain wilderness
where Red Indians threatened.
I would have written letters
with news of deaths or sickness
births and weddings
tucked pansy seeds inside envelopes
to homesick brothers on North Dakota
prairies and Minnesota pineries.
Read their stories from afar, stroking
blond curls of nephews’ hair
pressing the locks to my lips
knowing I would never see their faces.
I would have been the last of my
generation left in Norway,
the only one to speak with tenderness
connect a face with names, share memories from childhood
answer questions why they left and what they gained
or lost by leaving.
I would be the one who stands
on the other side of the door
flatbread and lefse baked and waitin
hand-woven cloths with Hardanger lace
reindeer sausage, gjetost brown cheese
everything to perfection.
Welcoming distant cousins from America,
astonished they could travel so far
and yet find their way home
Candace Simar is a member of Brainerd Writer’s Alliance, Bards of a Feather and the Western Writers of America. Candace’s historical novels, Abercrombie Trail (2009); Pomme de Terre (2010); and Birdie (2011) tell the stories of Scandinavian immigrants in 19th Century Minnesota.