Homeward from Austin
by Jeffrey C Alfier

The road becomes a single lane into the absence
of all you knew. Foreclosed houses dimmed
heavy with despair line the street of your return,
holes in the memory of no one you know now.
Certainly not the young girl selling lemonade
to no visible customer. Not the homeless pair,
their tinder-parched forms recumbent under broken
lattice of some abandoned porch. Nor the old
woman mowing her lawn, a crone neighborhoods
like these never lose, where high noon finds
the young girl impatient to sell in Dixie cups
a lemonade that weakens from melting ice.
Watching her lips move soundlessly, you know girls
from this town never go far – few with fresh starts,
most taking anchorage in this deadbeat county –
an embedded chamber play. But you shift into drive
and leave, good in the hope that she’ll make
it out a decade from now – if she’s ever lucky,
worn-down but content, and not ever going home.

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