The Holy City
by Helen Gentry
Charleston, you are my city of refuge, my hiding place.
I was born into your embrace,
delivered into your dazzling sunshine in late March.
My father recalls sitting and waiting for my arrival,
watching out the window as cedar waxwings stripped the berries off a bush with vigor.
You gave my parents hardship and they had to move us out of there,
but we stayed long enough for you to become a part of me.
Your salt water still flows through my veins.
You are where I land.
We visited in the summers.
Not for long– but long enough to give a sad, misplaced girl some hope that
something lovely, vibrant and worthwhile still existed.
I was brought up on your hospitality and charm, your storms and sunsets.
I ran to you as an adult when life got hard with marriage and a mortgage.
At midlife when I was hit with a hurricane of a diagnosis,
I fled to you
and there I was clinging tightly to you again, weathering the deluge.
Although it had been years, you took me back with open arms.
I found intense comfort in your deep blue-gray sea
that is always changing,
Yet ultimately changes not at all.
The warm breeze rustling through your palm fronds breathes new life into my soul,
While your waves wash the dust off of my dreams.
The brilliant green of your marsh grass dances in my spirit,
in that sacred space
where I like the egret stand alone.
Lord willing I am coming home to you for good,
if it takes me the rest of my life to get there.
I know that we will pick up again right where we left off,
Just like old friends
who have never been apart at all.
Helen Gentry spent her childhood moving around the South, living in the Carolinas, Georgia and Kentucky, spending summers in Mississippi. Currently, she resides in North Carolina in the Smoky Mountains, where she enjoys hiking with her hound dog, photography, podcasting, spending time in coffee shops and selling real estate. She is married to a Midwesterner whom she kidnapped and brought home with her.