HomeSouthern VoiceQuitting Ohio

Quitting Ohio

by Monica Rose Burchfield

For Shelby

Where you grew up,
the farms are lacquered in smells
of turned cream and cut hay.
I like to think of you there—flying
through a field, sweet corn cobs grasping
your white fine hair as their own.
You, beating a dog path between your house
and the house of the shut-in Ned Lucius—
spying on his ochre-haired hands and fog-eye.
I like to think of you crouching near your father,
tapping the maple trees, your nose rasped and filed
by the end of winter, glistening threads of syrup
from the oatmeal scarfing your neck.
You, the teenager, Bucyrus Beauty at the Dairy Queen
five times a week with the boy you’d maybe marry,
then later, in the sun-split haymow under
a buttress of planks. He laid his jacket over the dust
before he led your cheek fondly to his groin.

So in the city now, when you follow that plaid shirt
down a spiral staircase to the edge of a lonely pool table,
and his twang gluts your mouth and his fingers troll
your frayed shorts, it starts to feel familiar.
Starts to feel like an unfurled night sky
and the furied heart of an open bonfire—
ancient, silty arms plowing you to him.
If this was home, you would spread apple peels
across his thighs, introduce him to your Ma,
curlicue his name on the face of a rock.
But you aren’t quite certain if you’re home
or not. Not sure if you should scour your tongue
with Maker’s and his slackening cigarette,
or open up, red-star and flushed
like trillium back behind the chicken coop.

Monica Burchfield, a native of northern Florida and of Cuban descent, has a M.A. in poetry from Georgia State University. Her poems have been published in journals such as Kudzu Review, Mêlée, Rhino, Rattle, New South, Terra Incognita, Dappled Things and The Healing Muse. She has a chapbook published by La Vita Poetica Press (2010) called Lapis Lazuli. She currently teaches creative writing at Georgia Highlands College in Marietta. 

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