“The earth near our place/ was cradle, / it rocked us— / became our skin. / House doors opened, / spilled us out, / we disappeared into trees— / they clothed us in delirious green. /. . . We knew the song / of this place, made it up, / sang it—”
Homestead life is often romanticized as a valiant, resilient family persisting in the clean isolation of pristine wilderness, living off the land and depending only on each other. But there can be a darker side to this existence.
Linda Schandelmeier was raised on a family homestead six miles south of the fledgling town of Anchorage, Alaska in the 1950s and ’60s. But hers is not a typical homestead story. In this book, part poetic memoir and part historical document, a young girl comes of age in a family fractured by divorce and abuse. Schandelmeier does not shy away from these details of her family history, but she also recognizes her childhood as one that was unique and nurturing, and many of her poems celebrate homestead life. Her words hint at her way of surviving and even transcending the remoteness by suggesting a deeper level of human experience beyond the daily grind of homestead life; a place in which the trees and mountains are almost members of the family. These are poems grounded in the wilds that shimmer with a mythic quality. Schandelmeier’s vivid descriptions of homesteading will draw in readers from all types of lives.