One Morning in Missoula

8th Floor of the Wilma.

Our windows frame Caras Park–the carousel–a smidgen of the river and Bitterroots. Candied cottonwood resin drifts into our studio.

(I once smelled these buds on the Kim Williams Trail with a man I should have never known.)

The western valley points toward Lewis and Clark’s longing for the Pacific.


I have never been on the 8th floor of anything in Missoula.

Here I am.

Married to a man for whom I’d give cigarettes up if I were a smoker.

This morning he wears a white t-shirt, black lounge pants–he turns the radio on–

attends to six slices of bacon. Eggs. Fruit. News of things in D.C.


Through the window, I see the wind ruffling grassy hills – turning them to seaweed – quaking – breathing – shimmering phantoms.  Are those hills?


This morning. His blustery peppered hair. His scruffy beard after a thirteen-hour drive from a sweet grass ocean.

Fleece warms my body while mason jar succulents soak up the troposphere.

Before breakfast, I woke to an empty bed and knew he must be shopping.

He entered our studio as I patted my face dry.

Grocery bags in one hand–he reached toward me with coffee in a paper cup.


This moment. Resilient, in good health.

Having traveled far beyond a wistful country. A new terrain.

Sizzling bacon aphrodisiac–French press seduction–orange juice foreplay on a rain drizzle morning downstream from Hellgate Canyon.


Last night after dinner, after apricot ale and fish tacos, after we lugged our belongings from under the Higgins Street bridge, Dennis drew a bath in a claw foot tub. I sprinkled cedar oil in the water. Mississippi John Hurt sang from a marble countertop. We soaked, and heat restored aching muscles. I slept naked–the windows open–homeless men below, swapping stories.   Sheets like a mullein leaf. I brush against my husband and wake to unfamiliar moonlight–I wonder if it would be okay to grab this strange man, this man in my bed, his skin the scent of the interior West, and just kiss him.


This minute. After breakfast.

Wood smoke lingers in my mouth.

Classical hour on Montana Public Radio–the swish of cars passing thin puddles–droplets tapping the windowsill–a horn muffled by rain and the river–a church bell keeping time–the foothills in shades of gray, his favorite color.

He sleeps. His right leg tangled with mine. Our bodies, some wild note musicians trip over.


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