Sitting in the window booth of the City Café, I ignored the way Bird was folding her paper placemat into a crane by looking at my slight reflection. Across the street, a child, holding his rolled up jacket like a stuffed animal,
was being forced into the backseat of a station wagon, which was filled with boxes. The license plate read from way out of state.
Perhaps because they don’t have home towns, just places
where they were born. Hollyhocks—the backyards
of Meridian, Mobile, Tuscaloosa. An array of spaces
they can’t call home, perhaps because they can’t place towns
like these into any one area of their lives—a blur of basements,
kitchens, the small dirt lots where the earth is hard.
Doesn’t the world, perhaps, have towns that are just places
where hollyhocks are born? The back of all backyard.
The refrain line for this triolet adapts language from Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye.
Jesse DeLong debut poetry book, The Amateur Scientist's Notebook, was published by Baobab Press. Other work has appeared in Colorado Review, Mid-American Review, American Letters and Commentary, Indiana Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and Typo, as well as the anthologies Best New Poets 2011 and Feast: Poetry and Recipes for a Full Seating at Dinner. His chapbooks, Tearings, and Other Poems and Earthwards, were released by Curly Head Press. Other than writing, he teaches composition and literature at Louisiana State University.