Today's poem is not literally true. If it were, it would be about the heat of summer ... like Southern Illinois was when I left home to go into military service.
I've looked back many times on that departure.
I had won a scholarship to study at a Big Ten university. Trouble was, it didn't include bus fare ... and I didn't have any way to get there.
Oh, I had been assured, in a form letter, that there would be part-time employment opportunities ... when I got to campus ... but I never got there ... not to that particular campus, at least.
Instead, I let the scholarship go to someone else ... and entered the only door open to me at the time ... military service.
It was certainly a turning point in my life, a new beginning. It was the biggest move I'd made in my young life. There were to be others. Many others. But none quite as wrenching as this decision ... which had been forced on me.
What I've tried to capture in this metaphor for growing up ... for that entry into what passes for independence ... is the feeling of loneliness that creeps in, the sudden sensation of isolation, the cold, of looking back, being torn between what was ... what is going to be.
I looked back once,
grown small now,
and dim, silently
giving up their warmth
to the bare-limbed trees.
I kept walking
through the weeping snow,
my collar upturned
against any call
that might somehow
(originally published in Midwest Poetry Review)
Today's word: loneliness