A Poem I Like #2


A Poem I Like #2

Ohio behind us
"When we ask our mother how long we'll
be here, sometimes she says for a while and sometimes she tells us not
to ask anymore because she doesn't know how long we'll stay in the house
where she grew up on the land she's always known.

When we ask, she tells us this is where she used to belong but her
sister, Caroline, our aunt Kay, has moved to the North, here brother
Odell is dead now, and her baby brother, Robert, says he's almost saved
enough money to follow Caroline to New York City.

Maybe I should go there, too, my mother says. Everyone else, she says,
has a new place to be now.

Everyone else has gone away.

And now coming back home isn't really coming back home at all. "
-Jacqueline Woodson

~ ~ ~ ~
Throughout the book Jacqueline Woodson seamlessly weaves the
words of the characters into the poem. In this poem the words from her
mother add layers of interpretation that complicate the emotions of the
poem, rendering them more real. At once, we as readers have to interpret
the literal meaning of Woodson's mother's words, the emotion hidden in
her words, Jacqueline's understanding of her mother's words, and the
emotions felt by child Jacqueline in hearing her mother's words.

This poem hits home for me--especially in my present circumstance--in so
many ways. I'm home with my family, home from school and waiting for the
right job opportunity. Every day I hesitate at building my life. I
hesitate because it feels pointless to renew roots in a city I'll leave
any day now. I hesitate because New York means family, family has meant
parents and siblings, and my siblings have their own places to be now. I
hesitate because my ties to New York manifested as friends from school,
and in my absence high school friends and middle school friends have
built communities that may welcome me but do not have a place for me.
I'm back home...and it's not really home. Alas, I'm here now.... As I've
said before: life starts now. It doesn't start on the next phase of my
journey on this planet, and for that home is not a comfort I can delay
until such a phase has arrived. I cannot afford to. Accepting this truth
has opened my eyes to at least one truth: Life and Home are things you
build, and I have all the pieces I need.

I'm not sure what the life of this phase will look like for me yet; but
I've got a place to sleep, I've got a mosque nearby, I've got loved ones
I need to love intentionally, I've got responsibilities that need
tending, and now I've got the will to try and make something of it. \]
Next Post A Poem I Like #3 Previous Post A Poem I Like #1