take me to your hometown
and i’ll take you to mine
i said
and maybe then, i chuckled
we’ll both be able to get outta there

treat me to your petite, coastal village
show me where your mother bore you
tell me about how liberating
a natural birth was for her
let me listen to the painted birds sing
and bathe me in the cool water
where your mother took you to swim
show me that hardy restaurant—-
the one that’s closing in on bankruptcy
(the only one your mother could afford
and it became a birthday treat—-
a tradition)
i want you to order for me
and when we finish eating
touch me
caress me
until we cry
take me to your first kiss

i’ll shudder as i show you
the place i grew up
(what feels like a boarded-up shell,
you can touch the ancient trees i’d climb
and at dusk we can take off our clothes
and lay in the grass
and when the crickets chirp
we’ll jump into the slimey creek
where my grandpa took me fishing
there’s a local diner
where we’ll eat breakfast at six a.m.
and watch them flip pancakes
as we sip bitter coffee
and listen to the music of our childhood

on our way out
right after we cross the border
into the bigger city
(the one i first fled to)
we’ll stop at a barbeque joint
breathe in the smokey flavor
and chow down on freedom
and i’ll reminisce
on the day i finally escaped
and relinquished the fear
that i never would

we’ll sing as we drive away
down the night-lit freeway
headed to new dreams
and maybe since we savored it all
this might last

and one day
far in the future
when we’ve got grandkids
and our hair’s turning grey
we’ll head back
and we’ll stop at that barbeque joint
just at the border
right before you enter
my old stomping grounds
and we’ll eat there
and then we’ll turn around
because we left while we could
and why would we ever go back?

something breaks me about that
and i thank God that it does