At the top of the hill behind our house stands the Arvada cemetery. The year 1863 is etched in a stone marker at the entrance. The cemetery works like a magnet. As soon as our mother puts us out into the yard for the afternoon—just like the kids and grandkids on the family farm back in Iowa, who were expected to fend for themselves for the day—my  sisters and I scramble over the fence and head for the hill. We trek across the field behind the row of backyards and  through the old apple orchard and get up to the creek, where we balance a flat plank across the shallow, sluggish water  and tiptoe across. At the crest of the hill stand row after row of headstones. Some have the names of children or images  of their faces etched in the stone, and we stay away from those. We look down the hill to our house and imagine our mother, big and round, lying  on her bed and waiting for the next baby, a boy at last, she’s sure of it. A little farther, we can see the Arvada Villa Pizza Parlor and the Arvada Beauty Academy. Between our neighborhood and the long, dark line of mountains stands a single white water tower, all by itself.


Kristen Iversen’s excerpt of FULL BODY BURDEN in The Nation, June 11, 2012 .pdf