What I’m Leaving

My Illinois

My Illinois is a blue house with a big yard

in a neighborhood nestled between

a freeway and a corn field. It’s a lullaby

of rumble strips and rioting cicadas, a

warm breeze through an open window

bringing a softness in to help me sleep.


My Illinois is the Arch across the river,

settled on the other side of my car window

as I drive along backroads, hop on the highway,

exit and feel at home. It’s a light rain running

down the windshield, a break in the sky,

rays of light that float over the Mississippi

with a slight shimmer

before the grey takes them back.


My Illinois is an in-ground pool, the smell of barbeque

sliding off the porch, laughter mixing with the hiss

of air flowing from beer cans. It’s dry grass that pokes

at your feet, warm water barely refreshing, budding

rose bushes and tomato plants on their last leg.


My Illinois is a leaf pile, pumpkins on porches,

the neighbor on the corner that gives out soda

on Halloween. It’s an apple orchard, a peach

cobbler, marshmallows hanging over a bonfire.

It’s a warm sweater, a comfy chair, a creamy

cup of hot chocolate. It’s wrapping your hands

around a reminder of summer’s warmth.


My Illinois is a white morning, tingling fingers

grasping at the blankets because it’s too cold

to face this day. It’s a heavy coat,

a handmade hat, heavy boots to kick the stubborn snow

aside. It’s a long line of greyscale days.

It’s looking out the door, wishing the sun

would visit you just once today.


My Illinois is a chilly morning, cooled by winter

as it creeps away. It’s a short, barefoot stroll

to the mailbox, pale feet against cold concrete,

a smile and a wave from the neighbor, a “Mornin”

from me, a bark from the golden retriever

I still need to feed.


My Illinois is a storm as the front rolls in,

strong winds that take a few shingles. It’s watching

heat lightning move through the clouds

outside the window, waiting for the rumble

that never follows. It’s falling asleep

to the sound of rain, waking to a world

soaked through.


My Illinois is a hummingbird

on a rusting chain-link fence, screeching finches

fighting each other at the bird feeder, plump robins

ready to nest. It’s a deer standing in the last light

of dusk, making prints in a newly plowed field,

a set of headlights unsettling against

a night heavy with humidity, a flash flood

that sends the worms to the surface

to dry in the next day’s heat.


My Illinois is hiking through the forest,

mud thick on the bottom of your boots, listening

to time as it slips slowly by. It’s a constant question

forever asking you to stay. It’s a feeling of freedom

when the corn stalks come down, knowing that now

it’s time to leave.


My Illinois is a blue house

with a big yard, a lake at its edge.

It’s sitting there, dipping your toes in,

seeing yourself reflected in water, silent and still.

It’s knowing a moment of rest

before you get up, glance at the swiftly setting sun,

and move on.

Categories: Uncategorized | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “What I’m Leaving

  1. Julie

    This is beautiful Jen…..


  2. Tami

    Even if I had never been to your house, I would have been able to see all of those things. Nice job Jen!


  3. Moe

    So excited for you & the adventures you are about to embark on. Enjoy this opportunity,take advantage of experiencing the culture, & most of all, have fun! Thank your for the present in my mailbox! It was funny that Don, your sister & her husband came home at the same time & watched me check my mail. Peculiar I thought. And it was at that moment I remembered what it felt like when I left home. Nothing will never be the same. But as you go through life, you’ll look back on this day & remember everything that got you to where you are. Keep in touch, stay safe, & know that I am proud of you!


  4. Pingback: Where I’m From and Where I’m Going – TEFL Trotter

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