There was poetry everywhere in Ensley
I just didn’t see it.
I didn’t see it in the trees
That I climbed
Faster than all the boys.
I didn’t see in the honeysuckle
Growing along the back alley fence.
I didn’t hear in the sound of the ice cream truck
Or in Daddy’s Anita Baker records.
I didn’t taste it in the Now & Laters from the candy lady
Or smell it in the dill of the pickles she sold –
Only on Fridays.
I didn’t see it in the starry nights
That made me dream of being an astronaut.
I didn’t hear it in the sound of that kickball kick
That you knew would win the game.
I didn’t taste it in Daddy’s fried chicken,
Mama’s red Kool-Aid,
Or Granny’s rice pudding.
I didn’t feel it in my feet
When I pedaled my pink bike home
Yet poetry found its way
To my notebook
And when I left Ensley
I took poetry with me.
I took poetry to College Hills, Titusville, and North Birmingham, too.
We went to college together in Tuscaloosa
And went all the way to California for a master’s degree.
But somewhere along the way
I lost poetry
Or maybe poetry lost me
To deadlines and due dates
To business and bills.
But I want to come home again
Because even if I’ve outgrown
That pink bike
Kickball and Kool-Aid
Races to the ice cream truck
Tree climbing and trips to the candy lady
I did not outgrow
Editor’s Note: The first draft of this poem was written in response to a prompt given at the Spark Writing Festival in August 2019 at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.