Sunday, October 16, 2005

Northwest Passage

Out past Sylvan Beach is the place
They still call Indian Village
Built only to be burned
The summer Spencer Tracy came to town
For years after that
Whole families would picnic there
Scavenging the debris
For rubber arrowheads
But when Spencer came
Everyone got jobs
Five dollars a day and lunch
The Depression ending with glamour
And the chance to sew on a button
For a star
Some of the men were extras
Growing beards and wearing buckskin
Rogers’ Rangers looking for that passage
All summer long
From eight to five
My father was among them
And once years later
The summer after he died
I saw the movie on the late show
I stared at it hard
Even recognized a few landmarks
I scavenged every frame
For the smallest sign of him
I found none

-- Vern Rutsala


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