amy mcmullen
intuitive portraiture
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b l o g

sometimes, coming or going home, i pull off the road and down the drive to the house that began one hundred sixty years ago. i think about julia bybee, who came to this place in wagons from kentucky with two small children and made this homestead when her husband came with gold from california. who bore eleven children in all and lived from the land and whose dust lies in lot 92 just off 26th and stark. i have walked by it accidentally.
i wonder if she was ever stopped in her kitchen by the weight of it all, and looked out at the same river passing by and the time passing by and worried if she'd done enough, if she was failing her family, if she was going crazy or just growing older. did she stew over the civil rights of others as the war broke out? did she worry over her friends? did she wake in the night, drenched in uncertainty? did she have a place to rest? i wonder if, inside those walls, she was able to say the words to another woman. if she found dickinson. did she read, "i felt a funeral in my brain" and let it shiver through her bones? sometimes i stop here for reminding. that i am not the first or the only or know even a scratch of what is hard. that echoing through the dirt beneath my feet is the shining delight and the labyrinth of heartache it means to be a woman and a mother in this world.

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