home, maybe for you it’s a shell. a castle. a nest. maybe it’s a hut or a reef or a cardboard box. an adobe, an igloo, a ranch, the beach.


it’s 2433 miles away. southern illinois. 

it’s summer where the monarchs migrated through, hundreds of thousands of them in a swarm of stainglass windows. we threw rocks at them to see them flutter. i’m not proud of that. and then we ate mrs. steinman’s strawberry rhubarb pie and swore never to tell another soul that we abused butterflies. 


it’s the house my grandfather played ring-around-the-rosey in when he was a boy. a big old 1800s farmhouse at the end of town, with exposed beams and eaves where bats tuck away to sleep for the day. it has no doors and even fewer closets. the floor boards give away your every move. it’s where i had to pass through my brother’s room to get to my room, the pathway like a puzzle, an adventure, and a torture chamber all at once. it abuts the country, the soybeans and the graveled roads of a place people still go for meandering sunday drives to check up on the relatives long dead and buried in the cemetery. 


it’s the kid who drove a tractor to school.


it’s the huffing and puffing we did when jogging up the gentle slope of the old abandoned mine, as if that exercise in soccer practice would be our ticket out, some athletic scholarship to a no-name school to end up getting married in a wedding that’s advertised in the newspaper and only to have babies by age 22 and become a teacher or nurse or receptionist or other respectable career woman.


it’s the yard i ran barefoot in. almost stepping on a copperhead snake. watching my brother’s thumb pop out of its socket when he slid into the makeshift homebase of beanbags and ball gloves. climbing the sturdy maple in the frontyard and picking off the skeletons of locusts long since retired.


it’s the fort we built alongside the railroad tracks. the collection of pennies i hoarded, after they got run over by the trains on a scheduled clip from chicago down to new orleans, full of coal and oil and wheat and lonely conductors who always waved and pulled the whistle for us. 


but, why am i here? 2344 miles away?

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