For Southerners, To Explain Why

For Southerners, To Explain Why April 6, 2022

Place is part of vocation. I am from the Midwest, but I live in the South.

I come from a land that stretches wider than this one,
where the rivers meet the sky and the sky meets the land,
where you can stand on your back porch and see corn,
corn as far as the eye can see,
and dark weather as it comes across the plains.
We have spring and fall there, and sweaters, and white Christmas, and no trees.

They are quieter there, more cautious of revealing,
more unsure of the consequences, more sure that the one best thing
is to hold steady to the ground already given you,
not to risk too much or claim anything on faith.

I miss crisp autumns on a college hill,
gray Novembers with rain and pumpkins and the hope of cider,
snow in December and all the lights in all the windows,
waiting through March for the crab trees to blossom,
graduation arriving with sudden passion
on the heels of spring.

There are colors there I have not seen on these hills and mountains,
pale blue and brown, gray and deep red;
wind I have not felt here where the trees grow thick,
open spaces where you can find things
lost somewhere along the way.

I could risk everything there, among those who risk nothing,
have room enough to live for something in,
stand at a riverbank and never see the water’s end,
meet autumn laughing and full of hope.

It is a distant land, this strange place
and far from what lies before me now
here in a country for crowded people.
It is a good land, and they are good people, my people,
and someday I am going home.



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