Annie Lampman, 8/25/2014

Current Occupation: English Dept. Lecturer
Former Occupation: Homemaker/Cook's Assistant/Pinecone Picker (yep, that's a real thing!)
Contact Information: Annie Lampman grew up in the woods of Idaho and now lives in Moscow, ID with her husband, three teen sons, and a bevy of hens. She has an MFA from the University of Idaho where she currently teaches writing. Her work has been published in High Desert Journal; Dunes Review; word~river; IDAHO magazine; Copper Nickel: Women Writing the West; the meadow; and the Talking River Review. She has been awarded a Pushcart Prize special mention and an Idaho Commission on the Arts writing grant.

 

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Find a Trade

 

Serving Chinese food was his first job—résumé

blank—reuse the plate-scraped fried rice, find ways

to save. Pizza, baked manicottifind a trade—

steamed lobsters, cooking his way to mattress money

before new skills of machete and palmetto, staking places

of diamondbacks’ husking rattles, learning the survey.

 

Find a trade, stick with it his dad always said. So he surveyed:

rodman, chainman, instrument-man—an itemized Florida résumé

before his departure, driving expanses of never-ending land, places

of muscle-car breakdowns and steaming radiators on the way

to paradise: San Diego, Tijuana tequila border skip, money,

partying, stolen FM 91X flag, women and beaches, trade

 

the Barracuda for a 300ZX, learn surfing and the easy trade

of three-day weekends, shorts and sunburned surveying.

Long hair, skateboards, beach volleyball, maxed money

“where the grass is green and the girls are pretty,” résumé

added to: construction staking, California city working ways.

Then, a girl—me. Idaho and isolation, backpacking places

 

like Rhodes Peak, Goat Lake, the State-Line Trail—places

made to keep him. Simplicity, family, a new trade

of wildfire, blackened boots, soot-weary summers, this way

of the woods: a wife and sons, howling hounds next door, survey

lines stretched tight, fences and feuds. Add to the résumé:

ten years of wildfire, winter, lay-offs, injury. Money

 

stretched tight, simple poverty of backwoods money.

Work hard, work long, sacrifice your body—the places

he’s been outlined on this sixty-watt spotlit résumé

working record of his life, his many trades:

Cook, Mason, Carpenter, Wildland Firefighter, Pipe-fitter, Surveyor.

Emergency surgeries, blown discs, disability. Find a trade, find your way.

 

His blackened crustacean memories: sand in the sheets, the way

he ate lobster off the floor, worked in shorts, made easy money

before a decade of Idaho burned away, then back to the survey—

climbing burden of class and family, impoverished work at places

with names like “progressive,” city stress and high-dollar trade.

A wrecked body, an uprooted life, an updated résumé.

 

His work is that way: fire and survey, surgery and loss, places                

of money and injury printed in his name, the trades

of his life a debt written deep in his résumé.

 

 

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