"Path of Antelope, Pelican, and Moon"
In his spiritually charged story, “The Path of Antelope, Pelican, and Moon,” Larry Menlove invites us into the liminal Mormon world of the Indian Placement Program. Gretchen Yazzie Kimball is incendiary. Wherever she goes, she inspires passion and attracts flame. She is filled with the spirit of the traditional ways of her people. She has spied on the mysteries of the sweat lodge. She can transform herself into an antelope, graceful and fast. Gretchen Kimball graduated from high school in Payson. She was married in the temple for time and all eternity. She embodies, like her namesake Spencer W. Kimball, all the confusing ambiguities of LDS Indian Student Placement. She makes her home on the top of Dry Mountain, not exactly in Payson and not quite the land of her ancestors.
Menlove’s story transgresses the boundaries of time and place, as it travels from present to past to future, from Dry Mountain to Chinle to Payson. Gretchen herself draws the reader into her repeated transgressions. She cannot be confined. The Navajo in her seeks the unique freedom of nature: the antelope, the pelican, the moon. The Mormon in her seeks love, family, eternity. But Gretchen’s transgressions are not harmless. She’s too incendiary for that. She should love one man, but she loves three. Her daughter is not her husband’s child. She is never fully Mormon, never fully Navajo. Her unique passion, however, leads to spiritual power. Menlove’s beautiful conclusion, joyful world-filling laughter, leaves the reader deeply moved and delightfully connected to Gretchen Yazzie Kimball. The Association for Mormon Letters is pleased to present the 2009 award in short fiction to Larry Menlove for “Path of Antelope, Pelican, and Moon,” published in Irreantum.