Notes on Returning

After Evie Shockley

load up your bags        gather some

leaves        seeds perhaps a pine cone        pack

them carefully in the carry-on        hold on

tight        pull memory close        inhale

exhale        hold the rich scent of cedars

deep in your chest        tuck it

into your bag        the seams

will hold        let yourself bring it all

dry your eyes        leaving doesn’t

mean loss        shoulder your bags        turn

yourself east as the sun rises        say

again and again        leaving doesn’t mean

loss        run your fingers over pine

needles        remember running

into the lake        cold water solidifying

who you were becoming        intertwining

you with all the growing living things        inhale

exhale        recall the thick crab

grass you learned to walk on as a child        soft crash pad

for unsteady feet        remember

the queen anne’s lace dotting forgotten roadsides        picture the mountain

outlook of your valley        the bray of a donkey

the footprints of unseen bears        hold old

home and new together         tight watch as unfamiliar

landscapes flow below        and suddenly you’re back

reeling from sameness and change         pull out the leaves

seeds        the smell of cedar after rain        leaving doesn’t mean

loss        returning doesn’t mean forgetting 

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