What Other People Tell Me

False memory: noun

  1. cases in which people remember events differently from the way they happened or, in the most dramatic case, remember events that never happened at all.


“When asked about the event she recited a false memory.”

Grandfather: noun

  1. it’s in this way that I know you: pale and purpling in a basement I remember, in a chair I remember, with a man I remember. We’re caught in this memory, the two of us, stuck between my mind and the creases of this photo.
  2. i cried when you weren’t holding me, and sometimes I think it’s because we had the same amount of hair on our heads. Tufts growing out of our crowns, some wisps on the side, and squeaky everywhere else.


“His jeans were always starched.”

Cowboy: verb

  1. you carried the sheep across your shoulders, from any side of the valley. You tell me this first as a bedtime story, and then as a morning story, and then eventually you tell me this every time I hear a magpie in your barn.
  2. they had rotting hooves. The sheep, not the magpies. Sometimes Grandma couldn’t find you in the fields. She tells me this as her last fairytale. She says sometimes she couldn’t find you in the fields and that’s when she knew you were out taking someone else’s burden off their hands. She says you split the barn into smaller and smaller sections until it was full of lame sheep you refused to let go. She says, a culling would have been better.
  3. you told me Jesus walked among the lepers. You told me Jesus often carries the sheep that others would rather cull.


“His hands always smelled like leather and wool.”

Wyoming: Proper Noun

  1. in the end it was the West that kept you. Bits and pieces across the valley. It was the posts that stood straight when your back curved with age. It was the rain that saved the harvest when your skin turned to paper and your tongue turned to sand. It was the road they paved to town. There’s no metaphor there, simply another consequence of time.
  2. the age spots on your head are dappled, just like my favorite horses.
  3. we have the same brown eyes. It matches our favorite dirt, the stuff under the porch that stays cold in the summer heat, the place we hide one last time before you leave the valley for good.
  4. i think it was the light of the city that killed you in the end. It was suffocating you, the way it choked the stars in the sky. I remember how you cried when you thought no one could hear you.


“It’s the wind you’ll remember, the way it waves across the fields, an ocean of its own, an ocean made of green and gold.”

Funeral: noun

  1. it was sunny.
  2. it was raining.
  3. your casket was mahogany.
  4. your casket was pine.
  5. your casket wasn’t a casket at all but blankets of cowhide and quilts.
    my father has only cried twice in his life. Both were at cowboy poetry festivals. One was a poem about a boy and a dog. A border collie. That dog ran circles around the cows, the fastest herding hand in the West. The boy was a rambunctious child, troubled as he aged, until one day his carelessness was what killed that dog—his best friend. Something about being drunk and not paying attention to the cows. The second was a poem about a horse that grew old with a man, from a teenager to midlife. He had shaky hands. The cowboy, not the horse.


“The longest lines you’ll ever be in are the ones that start with a hearse.”

Burial: noun

  1. my father has only cried three times in his life.
  2. once when he heard a poem about a dog.
  3. once when he heard a poem about a horse.
  4. once when he dropped thistle and dirt on your casket, picked up a shovel, and said, “No damn tractor is going to bury my father.”
  5. it took him two days. Not because he didn’t have the strength to move that much dirt in a few hours, but because he hadn’t been ready to let you go.


“The rustle in the fields sounds like a rainstorm without the thunder.”

Poetry: noun

  1. those poems weren’t about a dog or a horse after all. They were just songs of a father’s broken heart.


“It’s a quiet thing.”

Cemetery: noun

  1. sometimes I sit by your headstone and answer your questions about the farm. No, we haven’t sold anything else since you’ve been gone. No, not everyone feels the same. No, only one herd of cows since grandma died. No, there haven’t been horses in the barn since ‘95. No, there haven’t been sheep either.


“There are places that are quiet because they choose to be, and there are places that
are quiet because people choose to be.”

Reunion: verb

  1. My father always says: The greatest hello you’ll ever have is when you meet that man on the other side, when it all comes rushing back and you know that the best friend you always missed is standing right in front of you.


“I miss you.”

False Memory: noun

  1. False memory refers to cases in which people remember events differently from the way they happened or, in the most dramatic cases, remember events that never happened at all. False memories can be very vivid and held with high confidence, and it can be difficult to convince someone that the memory in question is wrong.

Kalie Pead is a queer writer from Salt Lake City, Utah, but she will always consider home to be somewhere between the red rocks of Moab and the wilds of Wyoming. Currently she is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Notre Dame, living in South Bend, Indiana with her partner, two cats, and dog. Her work is published or forthcoming in Folio, Black Annis Books, The Martello, and the Whiskey Blot.