She was born somewhere
That no longer exists
Well… it’s there, but no longer a known place.
Its tiny downtown absorbed by a larger metro area;
Its streets adopted into a growing sprawl.
Missing is the rural small town my grandma once knew,
My dad was also born in that nameless place,
That same Virginia town of Phoebus.
From the Greek for Apollo-
Light and radiant.
Imagine the hopefulness
Naming your tiny village as such.
A shining beacon of a little place
That one day will be swallowed
Off the map.
I grew up in the place that my spirit is from
A land of beautiful cracks and struggles
Where you’ll find a goofy little nothing town called Ishpeming
(Our people’s word for the heavens).
Here summers go forever
As little barefoot kids chase the sun
All the way down to meet the horizon.
Where deer often overwhelm agriculture,
And some of us, we cheer them softly on the sidelines.
Waawaashkisha (our word for deer)
It’s name also the sound
Deer make walking through tall grasses.
Here weather feels as expected,
Perfectly correct on your skin
Even while you complain about it being too cold or too hot.
Soft breezes blow and I know that I’m home
Because of the distinct perfume of leaves
In newness phase or rotting phase,
Or silent leaves compacted under winter’s crystalline waterbank.
My body feels belonging in this place.
The special way my feet snug into the earth here.
In the moccasins my parents made,
Derek R. Smith (he/him) is a public health professional, Anishinaabe two-spirit, wanderer, who finds it hard to not write poetry. Born and raised in the land now called Michigan, adulted in the Bay Area of California, now residing in small town Oregon. Some like their poetry elegant, academic, fancy. The proud Midwestern style herein shared is not as such, as any given poem was probably composed in a Denny’s booth. He has 2023 poems published in Great Lakes Review, ¡Pa’lante!, euphony, and Lucky Jefferson. There is no space for distance here, in poetry, and isn’t that a beautiful thing?