Bowbells, North Dakota Lucille Bodeen Centennial Album 2006

Featuring Lucille Bodeen, this video recreates Lucille's return to the Bowbells Centennial in 2006, from her own photo album. Part biography, part pilgrimage, Lucille opens the way for her son and daughter-in-law, who accompany her on the journey. Bowbells, North Dakota is situated in the NW corner of the state, and is the county seat of Burke County.

Mom raised me to carry the North Dakota story after we left in 1956. I 10. I became mom's biographer. This video explores the 2006 return with eyes from 2015. Mom's been gone four years. What remains from 2006 surfaces clear, opening the way for the poems which have been locked up for nearly a decade. And Mom is pure gold.


Crossing time, time traveling,
Karen holding the camera on the book
opening to take me by surprise.
No prepping for this exercise,
you take what comes up.
Mom looks so good
and there’s so much trouble inside of me.
Oh, she’s so surrounded by love
she attracts it, it comes to her.

Mom with her hand on Coupie’s knee.
If that doesn’t get you, I don’t know what…
and that morning driving with Mom
out to Papa’s farm. These photos
are just about ten years old now.
Now I’m an old man. I wasn’t then.
I’d forgotten about that morning
in the library with Karen and Mom,
pulling that copy of Our Town
off the shelves, reading Act III together.
I can’t remember who took what part.
Karen had Simon Stimson, and a couple of others.
Simon had died. All that alcohol in him.
Alcohol in the family story, too.
I did walk those railroad tracks again.
Shit Creek, meadowlarks and the bb gun
return me to my roots. That hour
with Alvin Hass when he told that story
of Dad pulling Coupie from the lake,
remembering that for me
when the present moment was gone,
that’s enough right there, isn’t it,
to validate a person’s entire life.
Bowbells, North Dakota.
Tucked up there in the corner of the state.
Oil country. Dry land farming.
Country churches and country schools.
That library with a copy of Richard Hugo’s Letter Poems.
Somebody doing their job with those books.
Gave me the chills. Gives me the chills again this
Mrs. Gibbs not letting Simon Stimson have the last word.
Emily’s voice every day of our lives.
We don’t have time to look at one another.
It all goes so fast. Do any human beings
ever realize life while they live it?
The three of us in that library.
Everybody who’s ever read that play.
Gone through these classrooms.
Mom in that photograph.
She was the Stage Manager all along.

Jim Bodeen
3 December 20150

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