Backyard Wedding Reno, Nevada with a line from Adrian C. Louis

By Lindsay Wilson

The poet read this poem at Reno’s 150th birthday kick off in the City Center to a celebratory crowd that included the Mayor of Reno and City Council members.

Lindsay Wilson, an English professor at Truckee Meadows Community College, is the poetry editor of The Meadow. His first collection is No Elegies, and his poetry has appeared in The Missouri Review Online, Verse Daily, and The Carolina Quarterly. Lindsay is currently serving as the Reno Poet Laureate, and he will be participating at the 2018 Nevada Humanities Literary Crawl on Saturday, September 15 in Reno.

Lindsay Wilson, an English professor at Truckee Meadows Community College, is the poetry editor of The Meadow. His first collection is No Elegies, and his poetry has appeared in The Missouri Review Online, Verse Daily, and The Carolina Quarterly. Lindsay is currently serving as the Reno Poet Laureate, and he will be participating at the 2018 Nevada Humanities Literary Crawl on Saturday, September 15 in Reno.

We’re fifth generation or we moved here last month.

Here? We’re tired of reminding you how to use

your tongue. We’ll say it the right way and hope

you catch on, and those are Mountain Bluebirds,

not Blue Jays, they slipped into the big sky

to remind us of transience. Happiness comes at a price,

and we need animals and a place like Reno

to make it real, and haven’t we all bought the west’s

promise of renewal? New town. New name.

New start. So many reasons to list, and we read

that brochure a long time ago, tucked it under

the driver’s seat where it belongs next to the tire iron,

and that book we keep with us: the Bible, the Koran,

that collection of short stories, some-has-been-celebrity

memoir, that atlas showing all the lines that mean leave,

but we stayed because we’re unafraid of work,

unafraid of rolled up sleeves above the suds,

the dishwasher’s hum, the cook’s face against

the cleaver, leather and saddle soap, work boots

with their shiny scuff of steel toe. We know.

We know the suckers run for the short lines

at the Rib Fest, and tonight the line at their reception

side winds before us in some friend’s backyard.

Cousin Enrike from Boise says, Time moves faster

outside the casino, as we watch the sun complete

its arch tucked like an ace under the snow

white sleeves of the Sierras, which have turned tuxedo

black, early stars in the thin-cool air of May, silver

cufflinks catching the last wink of light. Somebody’s

uncle is tapping a keg. When I say happiness

later, I’ll mean forgetfulness. I’ll mean little boy gathering

the oxtail bones from his family’s bowls, little ellipses

of vertebrae on the table’s white edge. I’ll mean

beer foam. I’ll mean silver ring and Virgin

Valley black fire opal. Here names mean

more than glorious. In fact no one here says

glorious unless they’re up for re-election or trying

to sell you the new buffet, and, anyway, the locals

are all farm to table now. We can’t chime

against plastic champagne flutes to make them kiss,

and even the plates we grip are paper. The Paiute

server adjusts his uncomfortable cumber bun

before returning to his work of keeping the flies

from the pickled tongue, and in this dusk light

he slowly fades invisibly into the background.

You see, I forgot my reading glasses, and I’ve never

been good at seeing what’s right in front of me.

Happiness comes at a price. When I said, transience,

I meant love. We can all find hope in the young

ring bearer, in her first formal dress, skipping

from table to table using her new words to remind us

we’ve all made a choice between the past and future

tense, even if she doesn’t know the difference yet.

We all know, by now, we cannot change what happened

to us, but we can learn to reinterpret the meaning.

Put her on your knee and try to explain the difference.

Never forget you’re trying to give her faith in the world.

It’s okay to tell her the story about the maid

and the horse thief. How the world seemed to tremble

before their lashes. How every day seemed to rise up

like a bucket of well water reflecting the sky’s bright mood.

How every girl deserves a white dress, and a spring trail

to hike before the snakes wake up, leather boots and turquoise.

The days strung out in front of us on the windowsill

like the bleached bones we have found here and pulled

straight from the earth. Happiness comes at a price.

Can you hear them, the fathers haggling with the caterers?

But the mothers are rising now from the tables, for the Electric

Slide, for our favorite songs, whatever they are, a good DJ

knows just when to use the cross fader, and she’s got him by the belt,

pulling him to the dance floor, and they have that look

on their faces we haven’t seen since childhood.

The rug rolled up in the living room. Someone crooning

from dad’s speakers. Listen, do you hear the neighbors knocking?

There’s plenty of room. We can always dance closer.

Invite them in, and turn up the song. Tell them everyone

is sliding in their socks across the hardwood.

Tell them they know the words, lend us your voices.

Dance with us. Tell them we should all be welcome here.

Please, tell me you believe me.


Cheyanne TreadwayThomas