Joseph Harker threw out an ambitious prompt in his Reverie Thirty-Two.  Well, they are always ambitious.  I count on Joseph for that.  I’ve been mulling this prompt around for a week or so and finally committed myself to the process.  He asked that we write notes about five (or more) places: first impressions, last impressions, and unique features.  Then we were to draw a map — and post a picture of said map (mine is pretty sad, I am not an artist) — so readers can see the process.

I spent hot smoggy afternoons
in the sand box,
running up the porch steps
to get a dripping ice cream cone;
bouncy beagle puppies played
at my feet.
Sometimes, still,
I drive by the house
and cringe
at the cutesy country paint
and fake flower boxes,
at my father’s perfectly pruned pine tree
hacked to the ground.

My university years,
in a drab rented house,
were lived
lying in bed
missing you.
There was a bright yellow
smiley face rug
covering a carpet stain
by the side door.

I reluctantly rose from bed,
and found myself married,
back in L.A.
living on a busy street;
chipped paint and bolted doors.
We sat at the kitchen table
and divided up the dishes.
He took his black cat
and I took mine,  milky white.

That white whiskered cat
followed me
until we landed
in a quiet cul-de-sac suburb.
I built a playhouse
for my children
and planted daffodils,
iris, roses and grapes,
trying to ignore my hollow heart.

Flower seeds followed me
up the mountain.
I planted gardens
and you built a barn.
A paradise place
where hawks soar,
and horses run
raising dust clouds
that blow
across the ridge
and away.


17 thoughts on “Places

  1. Annette, I really enjoyed this. It was a personal history in a poem…from when you were a child until the time when you had children and beyond. And I also enjoyed reading about the animals — beagle puppies, cat, and later horses. A very detailed write that I enjoyed spending time with today.

  2. This is a moving tribute to a life-time spent moving, taking something with you, leaving something behind. As poets we are often called upon to give of ourselves in ways we would scarcely imagine.

  3. Wonderful life and a wonderful life history, Annette! To be surrounded with flowers and animals can be most rewarding. The animal reactions can tell us about how to read humans in the most direct way. Their demeanor can be educational if we care to think on them.


    • Agreed. Horses, I find, have the most amazing ability to mirror human emotion. This makes them wonderful for all kinds of therapy and rehab work — but also great companions — honest and forgiving.

  4. I’m impressed that you tried the prompt, complicated as it sounded. And I love the way you wove it all together. Ever read Lisel Mueller’s Curriculum Vitae? Reminded me of that – but done from the geographic viewpoint. Very very cool. Thanks for posting.

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