News

POEM: OLD PHOTO OF THE GREAT BASIN EXPERIMENT STATION

By Lianne Ellison Norman

I was three or four, white-blond curls, 

standing with my friend, Nathalie, a year older. 

You can’t clearly see our rescued fawn, Billy Deer, 

his mother killed during hunting season. 

Someone found him, brought him to the Station. 

Nathalie and I mothered him, 

feeding him milk in a baby bottle. 

Behind us stand the families of the Station, 

the Director, my father, just behind us; 

Mother, well to the left in a flowered dress; 

big Paul Hansen, Nathalie’s dad, to the right; 

plump Mama Dell who cooked for the field assistants. 

Behind us is our house, white with green roof, 

little gazebo off to the left, where we liked to play. 

In the foreground, black-eyed susans in the oval 

and behind, towering aspens on the way to the tennis courts, 

the amphitheater built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, 

where Nathalie and I performed our made-up opera, 

Penelope and Pythagarus—loved the extravagant names— 

to empty benches. Operas like the ones we listened to 

on the Saturday Metropolitan Opera broadcasts 

on the old radio with its cathedral-shaped wooden arch. 

We imagined we dressed in slinky black dresses, 

had long fingernails we could shove through 

our enemies’ necks, then painted our nails with the blood. 

Born in Montana, raised in Utah, Liane Ellison Norman has studied at Grinnell College and Brandeis University; has lived in Montana; Utah, Canberra, Australia; Washington, DC; Kathmandu, Nepal; Kanpur, India and now Pittsburgh, PA. She is a published poet, long time activist, author of Hammer of Justice: Molly Rush and the Plowshares 8. 

NewPeople Newspaper VOL. 50 No. 4. May/June, 2020. All rights reserved.

Categories: News

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