Last Night in Billings, Montana

By Sheree Winslow

October 31, 2022

Last Night in Billings, Montana

Your mom, dad, and sister left for California first, explorers in search of housing after Dad got a job in Los Angeles. When they returned to pack and fetch you, they talked fast, words buoyant, while describing an event at Paramount Studios, then another in Beverly Hills to celebrate the anniversary of the Apollo moon landing. Tom Hanks was there. Mom had a new CD, music acquired after hearing it on smooth jazz radio, a variety of station not available on Billings FM. From the house they rented, they could hear the crowds attending World Cup games at the Rose Bowl, celebrating winner Brazil. But the skies were barren at night, no stars.

What do you mean? you asked.

Your Big Sky Country DNA couldn’t comprehend such a thing. You once woke to aurora borealis streaming through your bedroom window, watched awestruck while brilliant green ribbons whipped through the atmosphere. How could you have anticipated this change? Don’t we all live under the same roof?

No stars, they said. Maybe it’s too many lights or smoggy or whatever.

On your last night in Montana, you and your sister dragged a mattress out onto the deck along with a boom box, listened to Boz Scaggs sing, “Sierra.” All the falling stars that night—you both kept making wishes for your new lives. You straddled the space between goodbye and hello, stayed awake as long as you could to absorb the memory, hoping it wouldn’t flicker out, once you launched into orbit.

Given the name Many Trails Many Roads Woman by the medicine man of her Northern Cheyenne tribe, Sheree Winslow embraces a life of wonder and wander. She received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. 

Image by Meike Kathrin courtesy of Adobe Stock

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