No Maps

The women in the airport
Rent-a-Car office
had no maps of Birmingham
6 a.m. one Sunday,
said no one ever wants to go
to Birmingham
so we felt our way
through sixteen-year mists
past three children
new buildings, old memories,
along shrunken arteries
constricted with parked cars
and suddenly there we were
the house so much smaller
than when I left.

~ Frances Hern

Frances Hern writes poetry, non-fiction and children’s fiction. Her poems have recently been published in Freefall, Red Berry Review and an anthology by Silver Boomer Books titled This Path. Her Amazing Story about Norman Bethune, the Canadian doctor, is available from James Lorimer & Co., and Arctic Explorers, the story of the search for the Northwest Passage, is being re-printed by Heritage House Publishing in 2010.

“No Maps was written after I visited Birmingham, where I grew up, after living in Canada for sixteen years. We landed at Manchester airport early on a Sunday morning and rented a car but couldn’t find a map so had to remember our way back. Birmingham looked so different and yet strangely familiar.”

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.

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