by Ashley Lane

Upstairs an ethnic voice intones
About women named Eleanor and Lucy;
This is the only noise that breaks the silence.
Downstairs, I’m reading a poem
About young girls who travel the map
While reassuring themselves
That they have a place
With all the staples of a childhood home.

Can’t qualify without:
A Little League Field with patches
Worn by clumsy cleats,
A local diner with crusty waiters,
And schools that have teenagers
Singing about the loveliness of dames

This town I’m in now has all these
In some variation.
Like a Border’s Books near a mall
But not the one I used to play thin versions
Of old pop songs for the local PTA.

Then again, that Border’s is long gone.
I can visualize the inside:
Hollowed concrete where there was once
Bad coffee and unshaven readers.
There is trace evidence of this.
I promise.

I particularly like section 5:
It evokes Paris and Vienna
Within the confines of corn
And low-lying cement.
Perhaps Paris owns the road that
These girls blazed down.

Paris, Texas?
Verona, Virginia?
How about Geneva, New York
Where Dr. Dick Diver
Took his fatal plunge?

This house reminds me of my godmother’s
Though not in the childhood visits way.
More like the later years
After the cancer stole her rage
And memories of stoops and stickball
Dominated all the happier thoughts.

I wonder, can one feel nostalgia
For a time before one’s born?
The way she re-collected her thoughts—
You’d think the remembered world
Was Elysium with Temptations music.

I’m sure if I searched my memory,
I’d find a point of such idyll
Before people used language to build walls
With camouflaged doors.
Somewhere the rainy Saturdays
Had to become bliss.

I had them, I’m telling you.
Home is where you remember it.


Author's Note: The poem I'm referencing is Lisel Mueller's "Highway Poems," specifically section 5. It's in her anthology Alive Together. I've also taken JD's suggestion and replaced the parentheses with italics. I think it works better this way.

Posted on 06/22/2007
Copyright © 2021 Ashley Lane

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Genevieve Sturrock on 06/22/07 at 11:39 AM

(I had them, Im telling you. Home is where you remember it.)....lovely sentiment and, sadly, true enough. Not all memories of home are as idyllic and blissful as this. very nice read, thank you.

Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 06/22/07 at 12:03 PM

Captivating montage of images and expereinces. I especially like the impact this line had on me: After the cancer stole her rage.

Posted by JD Clay on 06/23/07 at 02:52 AM

This well composed narrative poem is a great escape to say the least. It draws the reader in and keeps the interest level up to the end. The last line really strikes a chord, but my top two picks are 'Bad coffee and unshaven readers' & 'After the cancer stole her rage'. Not sure about the parenthesis but the syntax and trope are spot on. Stylish stuff, Ashley!

Posted by Charles E Minshall on 06/24/07 at 04:22 AM

Well done Ashley and welcome to Pathetic....Charlie

Posted by Quentin S Clingerman on 06/24/07 at 12:56 PM

Here is nostalgia, philosophy, and love all wrapped in lovely poetry.

Posted by Joe Cramer on 06/24/07 at 01:21 PM

A wonderful narrative poem... well done and welcome to Pathetic.....

Posted by Jim Benz on 06/25/07 at 03:24 PM

attention to detail, and many well-turned phrases, really make this poem come alive. this is good work Ashley.

Posted by Kelly Jensen on 03/02/09 at 09:15 PM

This is what I remember of your writing. Well styled, cultivated. I love the stanza about visiting grandmother's house after cancer stole her rage. Vivid.

Posted by Richard Vince on 11/06/19 at 09:38 PM

superbly evocative, with that oddly bleak homeliness that pervades so many childhood memories captured perfectly. a most deserving POTD.

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