home and away

when you’ve moved as often as I have
you carry home around with you
in your head

your home has pink hollyhocks at the back door
like those at your grandmother’s house
and you answer a knock at that screened door
in a floured flowered apron
offer fresh cream with summer blueberries
or winter warmth from another log
in the kitchen woodstove
you collect rainwater in a barrel
and bathe in an inch of hot water from the stove’s reservoir
being happy with “enough”
for there’s always enough Grandma said
and enough is plenty
you grow a large vegetable garden with a rhubarb patch
shell peas on the veranda
make crab-apple jelly
put things up for the winter
bake bread from scratch
cool pies on the windowsill
you don’t find it necessary to take
Martha Stewart books out of the library
or wish you could cook like Alice Waters
you wouldn’t be spending time poring over internet recipes
so much time that it becomes necessary
to order Chinese take-out for dinner

you’ll sit down to meat and potatoes
served on quilted placemats
or a hand-embroidered cloth
a cream jug of wildflowers next to a glass mug of teaspoons
on the kitchen table
its captain’s chairs cushioned with faded fabric
indented deeply from years of getting
the bum’s rush
your evening diversion might be a game of Scrabble
with cookies fresh-baked from the big glass jar
on the counter
you won’t ever find it necessary to lock your door
and you can return home anytime
you’ve been away

~ Joanne Underwood

Joanne Underwood is a recent empty-nester who maintains a home base in Calgary. There she writes poems about family to share with her sons, thus keeping family stories alive and in an interesting format. She is indebted to her wordweaver friends for their advice, commiseration, shared laughter and inspiration.

“I write my poems in order to leave some part of me and my story behind for my children. I wrap myself in the memories and enjoy getting them down on paper. Family and friends play an important part in these poems. Where would I be without them?”

Read more of ‘s poetry:
Homeland Security

Editor’s note: This poem is from Home and Away – a sequel to the bestselling Writing the Land (2007). Look for one poet to be featured each day as Alberta poets ponder the question “what is home?” and explore our complex relationship with working on, living with, exploiting and protecting our land and our home. For more information about the project, click here.

One Response to “home and away”

  1. I love this poem. It speaks for so many people who have, through no will of their own, moved repeatedly having to continually edit from their lives all the “things” that remind them of the home of their heart. Yes, keep home in your head & your heart since all other “things” are too easily lost.

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