By Lon Otto

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Be- Page 35 hind him, in his briefcase, there is a startled peanut butter and jelly sandwich: Peter Pan Creamy, Welch's Grape, Wonder Bread. " And my grandmother tells him, "Hush now, shut up,'' and he shuts up. "Thank you,'' I say to her and continue my explanation. We had gathered in my apartment to begin the trip back to the lakes in northwest Minnesota that were my family's fishing lakes sixty years before. We are using an old map, old sixty years ago, a huge map of oilskin that hangs in my study taking up half a wall, floor to ceiling, an 1883 map of Minnesota and edges of Dakota, Dominion of Canada, Wisconsin, and Iowa.

Need any help, just holler," he says as he turns, returns to the grinding I can hear from some room behind this great room. '' I wander about the room when he is gone, touching everything, laying hands on the cold stone, healing the scars my nails carved into the wax of the wood, touching the shoulders of the forged, razory tools. I cut myself on a mirror edge, bleed calmly into my pocket, my abandoned blood gnaws soundlessly into the perfect edge, perfect justice prevails for an instant. I take the place in once more before I leave: the pulverizing stone tools, the brilliant carving tools, the soft shaped model- Page 32 ing tools; the cutters, the drivers; the fast holders, the securers; the clay, the wood, the stone.

The deserters, one by one over the years, I have expected each of them to talk, needing to win favor. Each time one fails to return from a raid into one of these cities, then I think it is over at last, they will come for us now, blast us out of this bloody stream. But no. Perhaps they disappear, truly, once they determine to leave us, having lived so long like creatures in the underworld. Or maybe the strangeness of our existence is not something the mind can hold, and they forget like newborn babies forget their other life.

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