To Richard Milhous Nixon, on his Birthday

When Thomas Cornell hacked and cleared land for a cabin, getting pine sap on his hands and wiping springs of sweat from his dusty brow, he didn’t know you would descend from him, didn’t know your face or if you’d be a crook or not, didn’t have any idea what choices you’d make in papers or inks or recordings. One midday, though, while having a bite of stew and a small dram of whiskey, against his own better judgement, he looked up at light streaming through sharp green needles and knew that whatever happened, it was worth the cutting, worth the lunch, worth the continuing on.


author bio:

Vivian Wagner lives in New Concord, Ohio, where she teaches English at Muskingum University. Her work has appeared in Creative Nonfiction, The Ilanot Review, Silk Road Review, Slice Magazine, Unbroken Journal, and many other publications. She’s the author of a memoir, Fiddle: One Woman, Four Strings, and 8,000 Miles of Music (Citadel-Kensington), and a poetry collection, The Village (Kelsay Books). Visit her website at