Poem: To Val & Jim

For two weeks in July and August of 2012,
you were happier than you had been in a long time.
In fact, it had been eight years since you were happy.
That's when you last visited these mountains.
Not to be put in the soil by the drought in Indiana,
you came here and found yourself instead buried in summer snow.

I suppose you weren't the only ones to make this place holy.
Two years before your latest visit,
a pair of newlyweds visited here for their honeymoon.
Not two months after that, a man proposed to his girlfriend in this very room.
Children's scribbles, imaginary paw prints, and exclamation marks
carve paths across this aqua-bordered spiral notebook.
Thank-yous from Sydney, New York, London, San Francisco.
Every page brims with gratitude and suggestions,
but no note is so poignant as yours, dated hardly a year ago.

I think it's because I am sitting in your chair,
drinking lemon ginger tea and dabbling in your sacred memories.
I imagine you flicking on the gas stove before turning on the radio,
fiddling with the antennae to find your favorite song, 
the one they only seem to play on these mountain stations.
Drunk with content, you'd fit a few more jigsaw pieces into the puzzle
that spills across the coffee table where I found this book,
before you retreat to the loft for the night.

I don't want to go home reads the first line of your entry.
I pause there, afraid to go on and ruin the picture of you I have in my head.
What was home, that you are homesick for a place you haven't seen in eight years?

I hope that when I come back next year,
I'll intrude upon your letters again,
finding that you have further distanced yourself from the eastern states.
By that time we'll be aware of each other, 
as I'll remember to mention you in my thank-you note,
and I'm sure that you would do the same for a perfect stranger.


I wrote this poem during my two-day stay at a cabin near Maple Falls last week. There was a small notebook on the table filled with entries from previous tenants, some of which dated back to 2009. There were many repeat visitors, but never an entry from someone who was there alone. Perhaps they just didn't write.

This entry stuck out to me because of the very first line, mentioned above - "I don't want to go home." It made me think of why exactly home wasn't something worth going back to. I'm not sure which of the two wrote this, but the handwriting very much resembled my late great-grandmother's writing, which always looked as if it were written with a hand that could not stop shaking. It made me sad, even though it was overall a pleasant note.

Hopefully the words I left behind will resonate with someone just as much as Val and Jim's did with me, wherever they may be now.

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