Rodney Nelson


Gramma Sea

No doubt they took her to the train in Brumunddal, Agnethe Olesdatter, which moved past Mjøsa big water of inland Norway the Furnes church that the girl might have seen going to Amerika alone but I do not know where the strange
                 kind well-dressed woman
would have boarded, Trondheim Lillehamar Hamar Eidsvoll, who lived in Christiania nineteen oh-five young secretary had written an earnest of
                 Olav Audunssøn I Hestviken
not gotten it published was at work on
                 Fru Marta Oulie
would have had no means or reason to travel the old Norwegian kings’ way until later move to Gudbrandsdalen, to sit in compartment and disaffright Agnethe not that my gramma needed it much but
                 she was very nice polite she wanted to know why I went to Nord Dakota
                 my uncle would meet me he sent me the ticket she wanted to wish me
                 well on the trip I never forgot that name
which I said at her eightieth birthday, name that would mark a route to the past the beauty of resignation not the one Agnethe was on toward new blue western light
                 frøken jomfruen
divergent, the woman might not have understood, my gramma with eyes to Atlantic New York Chicago detrained at Valley City the uncle Gusaas await in sea of wheat, married Anton Nilsen Mamelund to lose him soon to epidemic becoming Agnes Christenson as wife of hired man, the dried-out cracky farm as well midnineteenthirties had had six Nilsen kids that lived five Christenson went on a short dirt road to Richland County, my dad the eldest wived a half Swede there, a rolling long one out to Oregon the coast no chance to read or hear of
                 Kristin Lavransdatter
                 Grandma C
                 Gramma Sea
in family daydream, we met on Waldport wartime visit the pleasant hefty unyoung woman with handgun of size that I wanted to touch but
                 that’s for her work at the cee-oh camp she has to use that you know
I learned at three, Gramma her second man had to do what jobs they could, at twenty-three would mention the name of one of them she had guarded William Everson poet of California who bedoubted own norskie heritage, she did not recall, I had seen her on many a childhood visit by then descending wooded tidewater highway to eventual ocean light the town’s
                 convergence of blue and green
unwritten of yet, her heft serene in cottage a too-good woman did not talk ill or much had arrived from
pietism at matching American sect that never came up, or Gramma at beachside table with low-cut hedge around it in June sun the water both near and remote the sand wide, hearing
                 Hilda might be thinking of us now
the way she turned to look out west what had to be her element toward married daughter in Japan or only herself, Gramma Sea
                 Norwegian America preserved a language and culture that people of my age
                 remembered only faintly from childhood
nice train woman had written of exile during occupation and Gramma would have lived mid that in North Dakota have tasted
                 lefse rømmegraut fattigmann
spoken dialect but used
on paper, in Oregon not, the wet rich hills that I climbed in Waldport rang with American psalmody but even at fifteen as I walked humming
                 Love Letters in the Sand
at seventeen reading
                 Finnegans Wake
on the spit in bony driftwood the sun too loud I thought of her as
                 Fru fra havet
Norwegian like the sea, knew my Ibsen, would learn the tongue so as to write her quote the poem
                 Terje Viken
in ending navy days get few words back just one of many grandchildren to vie, nineteen sixty-seven I bolted the Haight Germany North Dakota and drove with friend to see her a heftless diabetic now would have put us up, we went to her element instead made leanto on beach for hippie conclave of two not wanting to treat my age-old gramma or second man to midnight music neoracket, voice of Oregon
                 where the hellll’s the party
intruded toward that hour like an omen what would meet me Newport nineteen sixty-nine though I had come alone with Zen had sat at revamped synagogue wanted to try in nonurban nature no one to teach or be taught, Gramma would have been alone too the man dead had taken in two daughters had by him whose minds were fallen to the world, Aunt Virginia Aunt Irene, let me stay in trailer next the cottage whence I had gone to sit every morning in line of sea then walk it return write poetry all afternoon read Zen the early night, had lived without wine or anything, they had called me in to eat and often tired of written word I had chatted the evening with Gramma
                 where do you get your cod
                 I don’t like that stuff I like potatoes
she had told me saying it
Aunt Irene Aunt Virginia quiet with cigarettes teevee
                 have you ever gone out in a boat here
which brought a snort
                 I wouldn’t want to do that I don’t like the ocean I like mountains I always
                 wanted to go on Mary’s Peak I didn’t have the chance
so Gramma Sea not of it at all I had thought her heart had remained in
strove toward them even now, traditional nondriving Gramma a Norwegian of
                 potet og fjell
would have had to rely on men to get to four-thousand-foot summit near Alsea tidewater road some long way in, her autumn eightieth birthday a poet I knew arriving in car we had taken Gramma to the naked top had watched her sit in zenlike meditation with mountain look around not out at remote unwanted hint of sea, only be, I had given her a copy of
                 Kristin Lavransdatter it has to do with your part of Norway I couldn’t find
                 it in the norsk
that afternoon, Gramma recognizing name
                 Sigrid Undset I met her once I was fifteen ja
had told me trainride anecdote that sixty-five years Amerika death depression drought had not effaced, of two young inland Norways who had talked diverged the one retroflective the other with heart on West land’s end, both of a simplicity now gone, and I went sitting walking writing on, own tie to sea not changed until in early winter dim I maddened to odor of moss got a ride with the rain to Newport, I needed to know
                 where the hellll
the party was and found it Nye Beach a hippie slew two winy screaming nights awake to days of herb and ache in the returned sun a try to quote what sea words I had written to lumberjack audience turned Nazi on me an iron taste in mouth when I hitchhiked weak to Waldport healing in Gramma trailer then to the city, would not cry
                 havet havet
again in time’s reeling or unreeling, would have a visit with wife to Gramma at home describe
                 convergence of blue and green
in newsprint, a quick last one to her deathbedside who went midseventies, cottage burnt later, Waldport mere town on road where I do not stop but did into new millennium tenting at beach the surf a threat and slept in a fit to meet dawn throttle of pleurisy sick at very look of tidepool not in Agnethe’s element, out of mine