Wiklund500x640Ask him what growing up on the farm in Two Harbors was like.

Ask him about what he learned on the farm, where he milked cows before going to school.

Ask him about college in Duluth, that one time he stole a beer truck, the married woman who desired an affair. Ask him about those adventurous college days in the 70s!

Ask him about fourteen job offers in the 70s!

Ask him again about the farm, the memories he had of his father.

Ask him how many of those memories changed when his father died in his arms after he left UMD.

Ask him about heart attacks.

Ask him about inheritance, about what we inherit.

Ask him about meeting my mother, if he suspected the baggage she’d carry, the Iron Range behind her, a family who liked to dig.

Ask him about moving back to Duluth, teaching Grandma to drive. Ask him how many times she failed. Ask him about failure.

Ask him about his time as a pharmaceutical salesman. Ask him about that summer in Chicago, where he met Steve, the only black friend he ever talks about.

Ask him about always referring to Steve as “his black friend.”

Ask him about my mother’s inability to conceive.

Ask him about constraint, about what holds us back, and his switch to boxer shorts.

Ask him about my mother’s ability to conceive.

Ask him about the November hunting season of 1984; what did he think of when he spied a doe and her fawn, silhouetted in the snow?

Ask him about November 27, 1984: the birth of his first son.

Ask him about my birth.

Ask him about Jared, and the spring melt of 1986—ask him about leaving Minneapolis with my mother, and returning to Duluth once more. Ask him about brothers; he had none, but I have one.

Ask him about returning to Duluth and Grandma a second time in a decade.

Ask him about the house on 3rd Street.

Ask him about the porch he built in the backyard of the house on 3rd Street.

Ask him about building a life for his family on 3rd Street.

Ask him about building, for he inherited Premier Builders after his father died. Ask him about the new lessons he learned as a general contractor.

Ask him about the neighbors we had—the ones Jared punched, the ones I insulted, the ones we wholeheartedly loved and miss.

Ask him about his sons’ summer jobs at his job sites, and how they hated it.

Ask him about his wife’s brush with breast cancer.

Ask him about being sued by the neighbors.

Ask him about his heart attacks.

Ask him about the proximity of the tennis courts to 3rd Street, where his sons volleyed against each other, the other players, and events out of their control.

Ask him about his sons leaving Minnesota for Iowa.

Ask him about how I rejected science, law, and business to write.

Ask him how he thinks that’s going—the writing.

Ask him about my fourteen job offers inability to get a job for two years after college.

Ask him about 2007-2009, when the economy tanked and the housing market collapsed. Ask him what that was like for his business.

Ask him about never formally graduating from UMD.

Ask him again about 2007, the year I graduated and moved home because of my fourteen job offers inability to get a job.

Ask him about Jared, who made a career out of hunting with Pheasants Forever.

Ask him about forever, what he thinks of this life.

Ask him about religion, how he wrested my mother from Catholicism.

Ask him about my mother’s tattered relationship with her father.

Ask him about what he’s afraid of.

Ask him what he thinks his sons are afraid of.

Ask him how my mother’s tattered relationship is on the mend.

Ask him about Thanksgiving, how we always retreat as a family to the cabin.

Ask him about celebration, and my birthday, and the annual Wiklund boys deer hunt.

Ask him about hunting.

Ask him about what it is he is hunting.

Ask him—

Ask him about the framed picture on my wall, about the framed picture of himself—Tim—my father, and of Fred—his father—my grandfather, who died in his arms from a heart attack.

Ask him why they are looking in opposite directions in the photo.

Ask him why it does not gather dust.

Jordan Wiklund’s work has appeared in Pank, Fourth Genre, Brevity, and elsewhere. He is a contributing editor to Paper Darts, and assistant editor to the 2014 edition of Water~Stone Review. He works in Minneapolis as an editor for Motorbooks, an imprint of Quayside Publishing, and is nearing thesis as a student in the MFA program of Hamline University. He is also co-author of Craft Beer for the Home Brewer, forthcoming from Voyageur Press. He and his wife live in St. Paul. Find him on Twitter @JordanWiklund, or Sundays at the St. Paul Curling Club.

Photography by Liz Wuerffel