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
Before dark.

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.