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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 10: October 2021
Poem: 259 words
By Robbi Nester

Where Is Home?

In your lovely city you can weep.
—Sarah Sarai, “The Quiet Softness”
 
Maybe that’s what makes it home, a place 
where you can weep, laying your heavy head 
down in your arms and just letting go. I did enough 
of that in the brick row house in Philadelphia 
where I grew up, balanced on the scorching 
radiator, bony as a starving horse, wishing 
I were somewhere else, seeing without 
seeing the same blank corner of the block, 
parked cars and delivery vans, bringing us 
warm pies and packages, bottles of milk, 
newspapers fallen into the garden in a heap. 
I left that place behind decades ago. Why then, 
when I saw old photos of the Bushrod library 
across the street; the old newsstand on the corner 
where the holocaust survivors gathered to speak 
their mamaloschen, read Yiddish newspapers; 
the Tarkin playground, where I’d ice skate in winter, 
run through the sprinklers in the summer heat; 
why did I feel a tug, drawing me back to a place that isn’t 
there now, people who have died or gone away— 
most of whom I never thought about before now? 
Home isn’t in the tears I shed there or in the time 
I spent living in that house, as a child, a teenager, 
when I was taking it all in, gathering a harvest 
that would last a lifetime. What would I tell 
that crying child? I’d say to store it all, grief’s 
golden grain, to remember, set it to rise 
in a warm corner. That will be your home. 

 

 

Publisher’s Note:

Epigraph above is from Sarah Sarai’s book The Strapless Bra From Heaven; her poem The Quiet Softness is reprinted at Verse Daily.

Robbi Nester
Issue 10, October 2021

is the author of four books of poetry, including an ekphrastic chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012), and three collections: Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019), Other-Wise (Kelsay, 2017), and A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014). She has edited three anthologies; the latest is The Plague Papers, available online at Poemeleon Journal. Her poems, reviews, essays, and articles have appeared widely in journals and anthologies, including Aeolian Harp VI, Book of Matches, Cultural Daily, Gargoyle, Live Encounters, Muddy River Review, North of Oxford, Rhino, Tampa Review, Tiferet, Verdad, and Verse-Virtual.

Author’s website: www.robbinester.net

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

After Blossom, ekphrastic poem after an etching by Phil Greenwood in MacQueen’s Quinterly (Issue 3, May 2020)

Three Poems by Robbi Nester in Verse-Virtual (January 2020)

Law of Attraction, ekphrastic poem after Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone, in Verse-Virtual (May 2019)

Night Tunnel, ekphrastic poem after a painting by Robert Rhodes, Philadelphia Night Train, in The Ekphrastic Review (21 April 2016)

The Locusts, ekphrastic poem after a collage of the same name by Mary Boxley Bullington, in The Ekphrastic Review (13 October 2015)

 
 
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