I like looking at bicycles in old films
such as this one of Dawson, a mining town,
now a ghost town. I like at the opening
the long line of coke ovens, the miners, two
men, walking home from the mine. I like
the bicycles, the dogs, the women’s dresses,
their hairstyles, looking into their faces
wondering what happened
after Dawson, where they went, what they
did or did not do, what they did or did not say.
The lady narrator, her
last name Loy, said she and her
husband went to graduate school the following year.
They had two young sons, Merrill, the elder
and Bill, who lives now in Eugene,
Oregon, and introduces his mother
in the film, which was shot by Mr.
Loy in 1938. There are numerous shots
of the boys, several of Bill in his playpen
and then one where he seems
happy, having just
learned to walk. There are shots
of the mines, the houses that sprang from
mountainsides, the church, the school.
Now, nothing left in Dawson
but the cemetery. I like the moments of Bill
walking on his own,
but I have no idea what he does in Eugene.
He must almost be seventy.
His mother, a young wife
in the film, sticks her tongue out in
one shot. She was born in 1917.
Peter Mladinic has published three books of poetry: Lost in Lea, Dressed for Winter, and Falling Awake in Lovington, all with the Lea County Museum Press. He lives in Hobbs, New Mexico.