Spinsters, couples, and families came and went. There were the field, the lake, and old Ted Peete who fixed things, told me tales of hunting bear, the lore of silent paddling so a man might stalk a deer at dusk. I was six. My mother pregnant and confined to bed, I belonged to my father, a quick and slender man who hoisted his ax with vigor and taught me to stay beside my capsized canoe. By his decree I read for sixty minutes every morning. When released, I lived in burnished skin, ate wild berries, noticed the smallest toads: collected in a mustard jar they turned black and wrinkled overnight. I paddled solo, sipped foxglove nectar, climbed inside the hollow stump. I led my cousins, invisible, up the forbidden roof, or on missions to pee on Granddad's asparagus. I darted through sun but lingered in shade. My palms and fingers turned black from pitch stained with Adirondack sand. My father dissolved the black with alcohol he kept for shaving, each afternoon before I changed into my dress and cardigan for supper.
Kathryn Weld is a mathematician and a poet living just north of New York City. She teaches at Manhattan College. She still spends summers in a rustic family home in the Adirondacks. She received her M.F.A. from Sewanee School of Letters and her Ph.D. (in Algebraic Topology) from the CUNY Graduate Center. She was a finalist in the Gearhart Poetry Contest.