at least it wasn’t “country roads”

Earlier this week as I drove D. to the library a country song- a new one, a corny and terrible one- came on the radio.

I turned the volume up, listened to the accent of my uncles, my cousins, singing slow about love and trees, the words drawn long,  sugary like the first bite of a praline.

I imagined oak trees, their twisted limbs, Spanish moss hung with all the grace and ghosts and grotesqueness of the South- how if I saw one I would climb it, press my face against its bark, my arms entwined in the whorl of its reach.

I imagined unfathomably blue sky, heavy, the ocean suspended overhead, hung with broad clouds like white sheets steaming on a line.

I imagined gnats, loose gray dirt, thick red clay, fiddler crabs, the stink of tidal creeks, grey shrimp so bent and thick and ugly that you need the fry oil, the bread crumbs, the beer to choke them down.

I imagined the rigorous roll of the ocean slamming against the pier my grandfather helped to build- my cousin chain-smoking, the shadows beneath his eyes- my grandmother’s grave, flat, the plastic flowers dusty, cracked.

I listened to a bad country song like it could take me back from exile, all the gray and limpid streets of Olympia smooth-rolling behind me, the banners flashing falsely bright in a rainstorm for the last time. I cried.

I am not happy here. I have been exiled from my blood, my people, the Golden Isles where my family has lived for four centuries, longer, depending on which branch you follow, to what color. There isn’t a brick of Savannah, Ga that I wouldn’t kiss, regardless of the bitterness of its dust.

I miss ticks. Cicadas. Shadows. It’s too goddamn gray for shadows here; the walls are blank, cold, moldy.

My home is unknown to me, the furniture donated, unfamiliar; I cannot love you here, can’t you see that? I am lost; home is a place that I cannot return to.  This is the underworld, now; this is the underworld- cat shit and pots without lids, the walls vibrato with strangers’ shouts, my child growing up far away from everything he has ever known but my own gut, which is bleeding, ceaselessly- a tumor growing inside like the second child I will never have, immobile, deformed.

“This is the world we wanted- “

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