Since the first publication of this book over twenty years ago, a generational shift occurred. I wrote this poetry to commemorate the passing of my grandparents’ generation. Today only a few great-uncles and great-aunts from that group remain. One still lives in the same farmhouse where he was born 93 years ago. A way of life goes with them.
It is now my parents’ generation that dwindles. My sisters and cousins and I have entered that long middle age, caring for parents and children alike. I mourn my father and write of him. I look to my daughter and son and wonder how they will remember me.
Returning to poetry I wrote in my twenties is strange, joyous, and full of surprises. While I would write some poems and lines differently today, they continue to stand proudly on the page. Words I thought quite clever now feel flat. Some words I quickly read a hundred times—considering them mere stepping stones in the poem—now stop me cold and choke up my throat.
Republishing this book helps me see, yet again, the impermanence and ever-changing nature of life. It seems unthinkable that an entire generation can be swept away and only live in our memories, in stories we half-remembered as we walked by tombstones. Our understanding of the world is always changing, always wrong, always right. It is good to place markers to show where we were and then to move on.
—Brian FlatgardNovember, 2017