I never asked how you felt as we walked through the cemetery in my parents’ small hometown, a graveyard full of Andersons and Nelsons, Linderholms and Moes. We buried my uncle that morning, the first of his generation to go. He’d driven you across the border from Juarez to El Paso when I went into labor with our first son.
Died in January in Texas, but the ground was frozen solid back home in North Dakota, so they kept him in cold storage until spring thaw. Nothing ironic there. Decades have passed since the summers that I rode my bike from my grandparents’ house to the city park, the swimming pool, the Dairy Bar. Such freedom. My parents had been high school sweethearts, married young. Didn’t work out so well. I found you, my husband, in another country.
On the way into town along the highway there’s a World War Two plane mounted as a memorial to those small town boys who left to fight a war across the ocean and never came back. Pine trees grow tall along the perimeter fence, a buffer against the relentless prairie wind. Canada geese fly overhead with their lusty honks, heading north.
Jennifer Hernandez spent her formative years in North Dakota, graduating from Minnesota State University-Moorhead with a degree in English. She then meandered from Japan to Wisconsin to Mexico, until settling in the Minneapolis area where she teaches immigrant youth and writes poetry, flash, and creative non-fiction. Recent publications appear in Talking Stick, Radical Teacher, and Write Like You’re Alive (Zoetic Press).