Moving Histories

Dan Morris


It was only yesterday that we pulled
the door shut on the storage
unit in Maryville, Tennessee, which held
the final remains of the ancestral farm
that my mother told me about every year
as I grew up, instilling in me the value
of knowing my history. We loaded
the furniture into the truck in an hour
with August’s humidity holding us—
a white-paneled door, the dark-stained
mantel with mirror, a Hoosier cabinet in decline, six
kitchen chairs in need of new seats, reed organ, drop
leaf table, chesterfield, two upholstered parlor
chairs, among other things. Last night we stopped
just shy of Louisville to strip our sweat
drenched clothes off and rehydrate
at the motel. Tonight we’ll stay
in Hannibal, Missouri, the old stomping grounds
of Mark Twain. And this town has not
forgotten. Tomorrow we will continue on
westward, passing through other states that we’ve
never seen and ones we have. South of Sioux Falls,
I’ll call and accept the job while stopped
at a rest stop where prairie dogs
make appearances. And the next night
at the motel in Rapid City, they’ll call
again and tell me their promised accommodations
can no longer be promised and the reality is the job
will not sustain us and so I will have to decline. We will
drive the rest of the way back to Seattle feeling the loss,
the stupefaction of having no other options and then squeak
by for the next year. But tonight we don’t know
what the next week holds. The sky is clear
as we drive this rented Penske truck from the restaurant
to the Holiday Inn Express where our room cools
and where we will sleep with no thought
of how any of it will really matter.


Dan Morris lives in the foothills of the Cascades Mountains east of Seattle. His chapbook, Following the Day, was published by Pudding House Publications. His work has recently appeared in the Minnesota Review, Tar River Poetry, and Stoneboat. He is senior editor for the online poetry journal, Town Creek Poetry.