moving to Alaska

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My Mother, Pretending to Move to Alaska
by Faith Shearin

For thirty years my mother pretended she was moving
to Alaska. She owned no maps of the state
and did not try to visit; she lived on a hot island
in North Carolina and could not drive
in the snow, owned a thin winter coat,
no boots or gloves. My mother survived things
she hated by pretending she was leaving:
baby showers, years of teaching in classrooms
where children built fleets of paper airplanes.
She told me sometimes about Alaska:
a place where she would live so far from
the neighbors they could not maintain an interest
in her business, a place where there
was so much snow she would not ever
mow the lawn. On bad days my mother imagined
who she would be in that eternal winter:
rugged, adventurous, warm because
she was not thin. My mother was going
to Alaska and if she never got there
it was because her Alaska was not on any map
and could not be reached by boat or bobsled;
her Alaska was a blizzard of privacy
and imagination, its borders hidden or revealed
by the snow drifts in her mind.

“My Mother, Pretending to Move to Alaska” by Faith Shearin from Telling the Bees. © Austin State University Press, 2015.

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