“I’m leaving and I’m never coming back”
18-year me says to herself
As she rolls down the windows and drives west.
But she is pulled backed every time someone
who has never been to her home
Makes fun of its people
and their vast and varied struggles.
Or when they laugh
at the way her mom says “fix’n’ta”
when she drives three-hundred miles
to cheer for them by name
and buy them groceries for their dorms.
“This is where I’ll settle,”
24-year old me says to herself
As she rolls down the windows and drives south.
But she is pulled back every time
cowboy boots in bars start tapping
to well-meaning covers of bluegrass songs,
or when well-oiled men ooze
“I can teach you how to drink bourbon,
As she stands on a bridge —
A real one —
Because this is my life, not a poem —
And watches the day break over a sleepy Austin,
25 year-old me says to herself
“I have to go back.”
Jesse Stuart told us of the blood
That binds her and us together
because like the iron that builds blood,
Kentucky is magnetic.
She is the heart
to which we return
to find life.
To stay alive.
“I will never leave her again,”
The me of today says to herself
As she rolls down the windows and drives Home.