Once a week I drove my truck to the cabin, following the river gorge. The Truckee River leaks out of Tahoe and winds north at the crest of the Sierra. It descends east and carves into the Truckee Meadows, into Pyramid Lake, then evaporates and is reborn in clouds. Truckee-the-town is named after Truckee-the-river, which is named after Truckee-the-Washoe, a name that was not a name at all but probably Washoe for “hello”. North of Truckee, half-froze in winter: Donner Lake. In 1847: 35 dead. Grandpa said “cannibalism.” My 9-year-old eardrums soaked up the tale, sitting on the porch overlooking the mule ears, a sunset pinking Squaw Peak, barbecued chicken blackening my fingers.

James Iredell lives in Atlanta. He is design editor of C&R Press and was a founding editor of New South. His book is When I Moved to Nevada (The Greying Ghost Press) and his work can be found in many magazines including The Chattahoochee Review, Descant, The Literary Review, Avery, Zone 3, elimae, and others.