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Sunday, October 23, 2005


by Rochelle Ratner

Blame it on the population growth. Blame it on the stock
market. Blame it on the government that set milk
regulations so they had to give up the farm that had been
in her family for generations. All she's left with is this
house and a yard that's less than an acre. She needs money
for dog food, and cat food. She hasn't dined in a restaurant
in nearly two years. What kept her going some days was
the thought of winning the lottery. Or maybe some
unknown relative dying and leaving her everything. Or
collecting on some insurance policy she didn't even know
she had. When her husband was alive, they lived fairly
well. Even as a child, her family was comfortable. Her
grandparents owned 124 acres. With only the one daughter
and the large house, they took in foster boys to help milk
the cows and feed the chickens. And as soon as those boys
learned to drive they wanted cars. As a little girl, she used
to walk in the woods and find parts of the cars they'd
pushed up there and abandoned: a horn, a door handle, a
broken mirror, what looked like the casing for a headlight.
To her, it was like finding buried treasure.

Rochelle Ratner's books include two novels: Bobby's Girl (Coffee House Press, 1986) and The Lion's Share (Coffee House Press, 1991) and sixteen poetry books, including House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003) and Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, October 2005). More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage: