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By McHenry, Eric | Field, Spring 2014 | Go to article overview

You're Back


McHenry, Eric, Field


1.

You went away and they went on

without you. When you reappeared

with kids and an ironic beard

the ticket carousel was full.

They'd finally stopped taking orders

from east of Dougal and redrawn

the map's eccentric ballpoint borders.

The dough hook dervished in its bowl.

Home is where your references

aren't recognized, or needed-when you

have to go back they have to clock you in.

The only other differences

were little changes to the menu.

Nobody asked you where you'd been.

2.

Your daughter didn't have a single friend

named Stephanie, in soccer or at school.

Nobody screamed the name at either end

of the public pool.

And you began to understand, and mourn,

that there would have to be a great-grandmother

named Stephanie before there could be another

Stephanie bom.

And the three Stephanies who gave the name

its amplitude, the Stephanies of myth,

kept showing up at Kroger and became

the Stephanies you went to high school with.

3.

You went away and they went on

like that, as though you hadn't gone,

still doing it the way they'd learned

to do it and that only they

still do it and the only way

as far as they're concerned. …

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