When I was two years old I lived in New Hampshire above my grandfather’s convenience store.
On Sunday mornings, while mother worked the register, my grandfather would hoist me upon his shoulders and carry me down the aisle of fridges stocked with wines.
One by one, he taught me to pronounce each bottle and would laugh as I began to read them all by myself: Chianti, Merlot, Pinot Noir.
My mother, a dancer of powwows and a player of deer-skin drums, suspected my room was haunted by a Native American spirit, because the room often smelled of pungent musky body odor, the type a toddler’s body could not emit.
Mother had a friend, a medium, who came to smudge the house, a process of spirit purification using white sage and cedar, in an attempt to evict the spirit.
Upon entering our home, she spied in the doorway a gaunt figure, hooded in a feathered warbonnet. She sought communication with the spirit, who spoke, expressing aggravation at the construction that was taking place at the corner of West Side and Birch Hill Road. It was his land.
Yet, he meant no harm and claimed to be my spirit guide, instructing mother to place a leather mandala ornament, above my bedroom doorway, so that he said he may watch over and always remain with me.
Outside, grandfather and I would pick blackberries from the bushes that backed Ken’s Korner. Wicker in black juice stained hands, we would eat more berries off the bushes than placed into the basket.
Dakota Durbin, 22, is currently an undergraduate senior at Merrimack College. He is expected to graduate in May 2018, with his BA in English. In April, Dakota will be reading one of his poems as the Merrimack college representative at the 2018 Greater Boston Intercollegiate Undergraduate Poetry Festival.