Origin Story

Karin Gottshall

Lake Michigan dreamed me, I think,
in the winter of 1969, its long currents
combing shipwrecks and where

was my mama, then? (She was wearing
a red muumuu.) And where was my father,
then? (He was fishing for steelhead.)

No one dreamed you, stupid girl, the seagull
said — you came straight from the belly
of your granddad’s school mascot
.

You wore plaid skirts and bruised your knees
and lived across the street from the motorcycle shop
.
I remember dropping dimes in the jukebox;

I remember embers in the sand. Once I saw God
himself — a small boy running across the RV park
with a toy sword in his hand. I dreamed

we all lay down on the beach and the dunes
moved over our bodies. It took
ten thousand years of whispering,

but we finally slept. And before that?
the seagull asked. Before that I found comfort
in the fur of animals and the movement

of a boat on the water. I was warm
in my mother’s arms. Before that I was
a sonic boom over Wisconsin, and before that, fire.