Uncategorized | August 17, 2004

Alisa Slaughter’s short story, “Moon Over Mountain,” originally published in TMR 24:3 (2001), is set in Oregon in the 1960s, among itinerant farmers living in the enduring depression of the poor and uneducated. In it a grandmother, along wih a social worker who has experienced poverty from both sides, consider what to do about a dead four-year-old child. Slaughter teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Redlands. She has an MFA from Warren Wilson College. This was her first published story.


It was just family at the funeral, and a few old folks, and town people with no hay to mow or cows to milk. Ina blocked out the preacher’s words about comfort in salvation and the certitude of the last days. It was easier to remember the other time, the humiliation of begging a strange minister, an underfed storefront Baptist in Rock Springs, for help. They hadn’t the money to pay for a coffin, not if they still meant to get to Oregon, and a nurse at the hospital had finally said, "We’ll make the arrangements. Ina did not know what the arrangements were. What did anyone do with a baby on such stony ground? Here, the soil was loose and heavy, always a little wet, an easy place to dig a grave.

The minister paused for prayer. From the church they could hear a tractor whining, pulling a stump or setting a fencepost. Myrtle touched her mother’s sleeve. "What’s a bale of tears?" she whispered.