OXIDANT | ENGINE : Issue 7

Grace Lytle

Ode to Maine (And Coming Home Afterward)

1.

 

The congregations of granite and lime

settle aloud like falling trees, and the people

 

mumble in their sharp rhotic accent,

and the deer like fleeting household apparitions

 

disappear into the thicket, and

I am lying on my back in a sundress

 

that doesn’t belong to me, heavy sand

sticking to the balls of my feet.

 

The sun doesn’t know how not

to cast its wet glimmer over the bay,

 

and I don’t know how to not

to eat two slices of blueberry pie.

 

I don’t want to go home,

to forget to close the windows and leave

 

the curtains blowing parallel to moonlight,

to drop off like buds of water off leaves,

 

but the week is ending.

 

I let the gulls peck at my little finger,

like a pinky promise to always return

 

like the monarchs after their yearly

flight somewhere warmer.

 

2.

 

There is always something to return to.

Being swaddled in my own sheets like

 

a newborn brought home for the first time,

the sun and the dew kissing my ankles

 

each time I step outside on those

August mornings, surrounding myself

 

with familiar faces and honey smooth voices

at the kitchen table, a homey, worn thing.

 

So I’ll take the four hour redeye flight.

I’ll take the perfume spilling in my suitcase.

 

I will miss the granite and lime and deer,

but I have missed more the humidity that

 

parts to make space for me as I walk,

hand in hand with someone I have missed most.

 

3.

 

And really, it’s not about the landscape I’m returning to.

I can bask on a gravel beach all I want,

 

but it doesn’t match melting into your couch,

your arm draped around me like algae

 

clutching an underwater stone.

I have seen it all. I am ready to come back,

 

to knock the sand out of my sneakers

and fall into the gentle silence of your house.

Grace Lytle is a poet from Houston. She has previously been published by Canvas Literary Journal and 45th Parallel Magazine, among others. She is a 2018 Houston Youth Poet Laureate Finalist.