They Say You Can’t Go Home Again

by JEANNINE HALL GAILEY

On this phone app they have you pick your ideal calming backdrop some of them are a tropical ocean some of them snowdrops in space none are my idea of calming which if I recall was far into the woods away from any sound at all except maybe I remember cicadas and the chittering of squirrels and the one mockingbird that sounded like all the birds plus dogs barking there were a lot of stray dogs in Tennessee the way I was a stray all of us were we ran around a lot away from grownup eyes sometimes we got hurt and we bled and got rocks embedded in our arms when we fell but that doesn’t stop me from remembering lying under the oak trees and under the oak trees grew these miniscule violets and tiny vibrant mosses so beautiful they came and tore up my yard the trees the daffodils the strawberry patches and they put down concrete and they left it like that for twenty years just a lot of concrete where trees used to grow five miles from Oak Ridge National Labs and our neighbors with the farm their land was bought and it’s no longer a farmhouse she had all these tiny figurines and their house looked like Little House on the Prairie They were old and had no children like me and my husband will be someday I don’t own figurines but I have a lot of books and no one to pass them on to and I’ve finally got my own trees and grass not enough to get lost in really but I hope they don’t turn it into concrete one day you’re in no-man’s land rural country the next it’s a suburb and then a city. Some parts of the country are left to survive or not like us as children, running around in the dark whooping it up diving into ponds with forbidding signs saying “Not Safe” just as unsure and unfrightened of our futures.

JEANNINE HALL GAILEY served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She’s the author of five books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, and Field Guide to the End of the World, winner of the Moon City Press Book Prize and the SFPA’s Elgin Award. She’s also the author of PR for Poets: A Guidebook to Publicity and Marketing.