“I Want to Speak Norwegian” by Linda Ferguson

For Gilbert Torgersen Grimes, who immigrated to Newberg, Oregon
from Søndre Land, Oppland, Norway

I want to speak Norwegian,
to conjure frost and salt and juicy pieces
of white fish – Great-grandfather and his brow
resting on folded hands, suspenders stretched
under the wide warmth of his wool plaid –
Great-grandfather who built his house out of vinegar
and apples, out of a mule’s breath and
weathered fence planks and buckets of splintered dew
he gathered from depths of morning grass –
Great-grandfather who grew love from the silence
of the deer’s hooves that stitched dainty trails
through the wood ferns and from the dusty maps
worn on cow’s backs –
Great-grandfather who traveled here in a boat woven with birch
and willow and oak, who sang to us of smooth milky rocks
that fit in our palms and of leaning gravestones
with chiseled names softened by raindrops, snow and moss
and of pointed brown beaks tapping tiny odes
into the grooves of pine trunks –
Great-grandfather who still swings his scythe and feeds us
bread and filberts with his fingers and teaches us
(without words or voice)
to embrace røyk, tillit and gnagsår
(smoke, faith and blisters)
even though ocean waves and a star’s light
separate our births from his last breath.

 

 

Linda Ferguson is an award-winning, Pushcart-nominated writer of poetry, essays, and fiction. Her poetry chapbook, Baila Conmigo, was published by Dancing Girl Press. As a writing teacher, she has a passion for helping students find their voice and explore new territory.

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