Along the Mississippi we listened to jazz,
waltzed the nightlife in worship. There, we
found we could love absolutely, losing our
tears in the rain; one for us, two for the river.
Outside a Greek restaurant, my mother
pointed to the China roses spooning the
walkway. We had eaten what was left of our
amusement along with artichoke hearts &
spanakopita. I was born to the Schuylkill,
not the Mississippi. I grew up learning
backyard barbeque, ripstiking skinned
knees, & crushing on the neighbor so many
houses down I forgot I was still home. I left
at twenty-two because I felt buried with all
the other noise that is lost when it has been
in the water too long. Away, I disguised my
pride in a culture that was not mine—ate
crawfish by the fistful, boiled my silence in
cajun seasoning, & used my hands to create
a sort of sanctuary. Tell me of a time you
lost what it means to recognize your own
likeness & I’ll try explaining to you how it
feels to reach for a rose stem, thorns & all,
closing your eyes & seeing your home like
it’s all you’ve ever known. Some things are
so small that when left, they cease to exist.
This has never been one of those things.
Born and raised in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, Connor Donovan is currently a teacher residing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He is a Swim Press Ekphrasis Contest poetry winner and his work can be found in Stone of Madness, Free the Verse, and Blue Marble Review, among others.