JENNIFER SCHOMBURG KANKE
CENTRAL OHIO SPRING
After winter snows, the rain comes
furious in our streets and gutters.
A plastic pool floats down Napoleon Ave.
toward Broad St. and the strip mall,
though it seems to me that’s wrong.
Even temporary rivers have their currents
and these flowed the other way
toward nothing. Some more townhomes maybe,
the school playground perhaps? My stories
are waterlogged, remembering only how the ground
refused to take it, how saturated it was,
how we all cried mercy from our windows
and when the rain finally tired of us
and the floods had drained away,
there was mud and rocks, one white sock
in the middle of our street.
“Appa-LAY-shuh is the pronunciation of condescension, the pronunciation of the imperialists, the people who do not want to be associated with the place and the pronunciation. Appa-LATCH-uh means that you are on the side that we trust.” Sharyn McCrumb
What does she do with us,
the one generation out
who studied television news
like it was the King James,
who told the kids at school
the blisters were from anything else
and not a washtub bass,
who missed every weekend party
at Chuck E. Cheese or some Heather’s house
because we had to go down home
though we’d always lived up here?
What does she do with us who still spent summers
deep in the holler picking blackberries
and teasing each other
about snakes in the outhouse?
“They’ve got better sense than that,”
Granny would say, sending us on our way.
We know the taste of sassafras tea
and the ruckus of cicadas in the trees.
We know the difference
between cow parsnip and Queen Anne’s lace,
which is not actually that hard to tell.
We know the fog off the Scioto
early in the morning
and the smell of honeysuckle
thick in the muggy night.
We’ve refurbished the credenza
Granny found in the dump,
the one she called a table
and painted bright blue,
the one she’d put pictures on,
graduations, boot camps, 25th anniversaries.
Five generationd down, five generations back,
to be told we can’t be trusted
because our parents moved away
because there were no jobs in the county,
because we say it our own way
Appa-LAY-chuh, which puts us
neither here nor there.
Jennifer Schomburg Kanke, originally from Columbus, Ohio, currently lives in Tallahassee, Florida, where she edits confidential government documents, which is not nearly as exciting as it sounds. Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Pleiades, and Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment. She serves as a reader for Emrys and is the voice for Living with Wildlife on WFSU radio.