America That was the title of the book we'd read together, flipping the leaves until we came to your favourite page, a painting full of red and lights, a New England ballroom where dancers swirling skirts came from a century ago. You'd always stop me there and gaze deeply into that strange, impressionistic room. I'd be reading the paper when you'd clamber onto my knee lugging the great book with you. It was almost half your size and a whole continent large enough to stand on to see the vast country stretching away, taut in it's arc and unknown. We'd open it and become lost. Why you chose that page among all the paraphernalia is hard to know. There were pictures of cowboys and battlesmoke, lurid panoramas where Confederate killed Yankee, brother against brother in blood lust. Washington and Lincoln, The Great Lakes, Chicago and California, The Dust Bowl and Niagara. Last night when you spoke to me from where you've learnt to live in the Rockies, to survive the snow and tramp for days in that bright, wild light, I thought of you still carrying the book inside you, opening the country picture by picture as you did in your pre-word, image filled days, when the lights of a ballroom drew you back, time and time again, to that page; as I am drawn back, time and time again to that memory of you on my knee, leafing through America.