Anna Rasmussen
Anna Rasmussen is a land mermaid working on her Poetry MFA at the University of Minnesota. She misses the branches at PLU. Photo courtesy of Anna Rasmussen.

By Anna Rasmussen, Saxifrage 38 Contributor

Guy and Laura Waterman built a house
in the snowcapped White Mountains
of Vermont. They managed without water
or electricity—just two small rooms filled
with climbing gear, instruments, and
stacks of books. They lived quietly.

Often they would walk on the quiet
forest paths surrounding the house.
Guy would recite Paradise Lost and
they’d picnic on a ridge of the mountain.
In the early evening they would fill
a soup kettle with icy river water.

Guy began to stand along the water’s
edge for hours alone. Pensive and quiet,
he counted blackberries and filled
notebooks with his memoir. The house
was his refuge, and he feared the mountain’s
shadow. One summer, he took a hike and

returned pale. Laura fed him bread and
stroked his face, dripping with water.
He told her that standing on the mountain
cliff, he had almost jumped. With quiet
understanding, she asked only for a house
she could go to after he left. Eyes filled

with salty tears, he agreed. They filled
their last year together on long climbs, and
slowly building Laura’s new house.
At night they watched the small water
bugs dance in the river brush and quietly
recalled their life on the mountain.

One morning snow fell on the mountain.
Guy awoke early and packed his bag, filling
a large canteen with whiskey. Quietly,
he Laura, handed her a letter, and
kissed her, his tears smudging the ink like water.
Saying bake bread today, he left the house.

That day the mountain ridge was quiet and
icicles melted in slow drops of water—
filling the river than ran by an empty house. ◼︎

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