By Krista Halverson
This summer Aunt Claire takes me driving from Prineville to the Columbia; we can see Washington from its bank. I use the rest-stop "ladies" after her, see the Preamble in her languid scroll on the door of the stall. We the Women of the United States… Riverside, our buttocks leave prints like ripe avocados in the cold mud. We talk, and later, in her car, I sit on a towel but she takes her pants off, drives past the station and waves at the ranger in her panties. I ask why she never had children. She says, we don't any of us know our own bodies. I throw my pants in the back seat. In the motel we fall asleep to the Discovery Channel. She says it has that effect on her. I wake up to hysterical laughing-2 a.m. animal laughter that sounds like retching. The narrator's sterile voice: With hyenas, it is females that preside. The birth of daughters is an event, and twins—when such a thing occurs--come slick with strong, dense limbs. Awash in testosterone, they literally come out fighting. Claire is gaping in her sleep. Her mouth is soft red-rimmed, the rest invisible. The sounds from her soft, open mouth are what have awakened me after all. Well, then, the wilderness may be in our blood, she would say. Claire is the oldest---thirty-nine and unmarried. Claire says my grandmother, her speckled eyes bright as salmon backs, bore her daughters early, and that she was lucky. The next morning, she brings me the continental breakfast: M&Ms from the vending machine. We are gone before the wake-up call.