In memory, I return to the bare brown hills
of my childhood summers,
that turned blue in winter snows.
Again and again, my heart goes back
to the little cottage on Christleton Street,
to the glamorous aunts and uncles
coming smiling out onto the porch in the video
now gone grainy after so many decades.
Sometimes now, on early summer mornings
at the farm, I smell lake-scent, bullrushes,
weeping willow and Ponderosa pine, and
I am back again, eleven years old,
freckle-faced, hair in a pony tail,
in pedal pushers and t-shirt,
biking the hot and dusty streets.
"There are landscapes one has lost":
1260 Ethel, when my children were
young, leggy and laughing, before life
brought us all so many tears.
My trailer in Tofino, the realization
of my dream, eagles wind-surfing overhead,
sunrise a fiery orange over the inlet,
joy and contentment at finding home
in the place of my dreams.
My last little home, a smaller trailer
in the country, where Pup reigned supreme,
his elderly paws padding beside me
in the darkness before dawn, returning
to our little home warm with golden light,
my heart brimming with gratitude
for the peacefulness
of that little home we'd made.
There is no going back. There is only
remembering: I recall the pain of loss,
the longing, when I left this beloved landscape
for the valley. Seventeen years of yearning,
before my joyous return.
One can never own a place. One can
only love it, and protect it, immerse oneself
in the beloved landscape with joy.
Remembering the past yet
fully present in the Now,
our hearts are large enough to carry
the full mix of memory and loss,
sorrow and gratitude that fills us
when, in memory, we return
to all the places we have loved,
that made us who we are.
Inspired by Places To Return by Dana Gioia at Wild Writing. The italicized line is hers.