I went back to my childhood home
And midst the rustle of the new year,
I took a walk through the back acre trails.
Stomping grounds of old have grown cold.
I remember them,
Warm with promise of adventure.
I explored for hours, flattening fields and breaking twigs,
With the fire of youth burning in my boots.
The staccato spikes of soybeans, stripped clean by wandering deer,
Appeared and disappeared out of drifts,
And the wind off the field, honest and direct,
Blew through me with force,
Scent-shot with distant wood smoke, steel, and snow-soaked sod.
The trails feel odd now,
But the wind I know well.
Is this renewal?
To see the old by the New,
The forgotten by the memory…
My feet and heart were here.
Every step pounded roots deeper into this clay acre.
I touched this bark and branded memories to mind.
I was present here, and having been absent so long, the roots are shadows,
The damage done, the mark made on this man, by things I don’t and do recall,
In places I do and don’t understand.
My roots are elsewhere now,
Buried deep in people and places of another terroir.
And I stood on the edge of the field
And opened my heart to the wind,
To hear the stories of the struggles and triumphs borne in small places
Of this country, of this heart, of this mind.
The smallest roots run long and deep,
Like the smell of a winter field,
Like the texture of trees.
We talk of impact,
As if by force, we will be remembered.
As if by speed, old pain will pass away.
But it is slow erosion
Of ice seeping into rock,
Smelling of shrapnel, cold and hot at once,
Or the caress of a yellow sky
At four in the afternoon, eastern;
Or the silence of Indiana light broken only by sparrow-call,
Or the sound of hot water splashing over dishes,
Or the coffee poured into the cup with the chipped handle,
Or wind off the rich and fallow field:
These are embedded so deep my skin has closed over them.
These can’t be removed.
These things make us, if we let them.
And when we return, they embrace us as old friends.
When I reach the city tomorrow, will it embrace me?
Perhaps. I forget if I’ve let it.