Begin,
by Lynn Pedersen

No plans and preparations without first
having a vision, like an angel appearing to you
in your bedchamber, or thought slipping in
as you butter your toast, stir your coffee. And how
to know what to pack, especially for a trip to where
no one’s ever been? Easier to follow
a river or a mountain range. I’ve read
there are few new roads, that most roads
follow common paths, follow the route
animals have taken, as if the animals know
the easiest grade to follow, the path of water,
and the Oregon trail is just a dot-to-dot
of Indian footpaths—so Lewis and Clark,
or some other explorers, can’t take credit.
And particularly difficult is the journey
to a place that never existed—the Fountain of Youth.
How do you map that? What part of a mountain range,
what river corresponds to fantasy? Beginning
is the hardest part, the part that unlike the vision
takes action. It takes loading the wagon,
telling the relatives goodbye,
packing ammunition. You can never be sure
what you will need, and so the Oregon Trail is littered—
trunks, clothes, pianos, chairs, silverware—
anything to lighten the load
before crossing the mountains. In any journey,
there is a time when you have to ditch the sick
horse, the cumbersome companion—the naysayers.
It’s all about getting somewhere
(and maybe back again) with your hide intact. Otherwise,
there’s no one to tell the story.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 16, Issue 1.

Lynn Pedersen’s poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in New England Review, Poet Lore, The Southern Poetry Review, and The Palo Alto Review. Her chapbook, Theories of Rain, was published by Main Street Rag in 2009. A graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts, she lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

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