The Voice Issue 29: May/June 2017 - Page 49


American Return

Long beyond the swollen, commanding flow of the Mississippi,

in the far, unknown West,

lies the quaint and hopelessly secluded town of Driftwood Springs, Wyoming.

Not much has changed since my departure, which may as well have been

a lifetime ago.

Orange-haired Margot waits at the Wild Cactus Diner for me,

sitting behind the wheel of Dad’s once-scarlet ’72 Chevy.

Waitress apron still on, her shift must have just ended.

She grins, cigarette between lips, as I kiss her cheek and whisper,

“Hello, little sis.”

We cruise through the maze of Main Street and several side drives

until the climb up the dusty path on the dry, rocky hill leads us home.

The canary paint peels a bit.

The larkspur flowers wilt ever-so-slightly.

Yes, the Victorian beauty, made

to mimic the grandeur and foreign world of the East, has seen time.

The outlaws and Chinese laborers,

the bars and brothels,

the genesis of the American railroad…

the house has seen all of it.

But that’s not the Driftwood Springs I grew up in.

Our house, with all ten bedrooms,

was the town’s finest – and only – bed and breakfast.

Margot, Billy, and I lived in the basement,

but we didn’t mind.

We liked sharing our home with the Yellowstone tourists.

The sweet old couples adored our shy room service.

The hordes and flocks of Japanese

were mostly confused by everything in our florally wallpapered halls,

but their children made superb playmates;

we made them our honorary siblings

and presented to them rattlesnake skins

and chased tumbleweed into town together.

We made them Americans.

Mom never let us deliver the afternoon tea to the pair of

California college students, who always roomed on the fourth floor.

She would affectionately swat us with the broom in the black-and-white

checkered-floored kitchen.

Stop bothering the guests!

We would race home from school,

eager to see what people would be waiting by the potted ferns

amid the marvelous, chocolate woodwork of the foyer.

I slam the ’72’s door and walk through the brown yard.

The front porch creaks worse than ever.

I greet Dad in his rocker.

I greet Mom’s withered, purple larkspur,

which are determined to survive another sweltering summer.

I gaze up at the shingles and memories.

Margot lives there now, with Dad,

with her high-school-boyfriend husband and two, devilish, cute boys.

Billy? My brother? Margot’s twin?

He left soon after I did, and has never returned.

But I will return.

I am here. I will return without fail.

Because this house and this town

have given me so much.

That familiar hospitality,

which can only be found in my lemon Victorian,

and the American town of Driftwood Springs, Wyoming

goes with me forever.

- Christian, Northfield, VT

Writing to the Challenge:

Photo 10 - House

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