Matt Morton

There and Back Ode

            Father, I’ve come back, I cry,
            not knowing where I am.
                           —Dean Young

Like one returning from a journey,
the boomerang whips around
the flagpole. For better or worse
the comet makes a cameo overhead, goes off
again on its long elliptical jaunt. What you want
will turn out to be not what you thought,
the fortune promises the crumpled napkin.
Bleary eyed, a woman drags a suitcase
up the ramp. Declaration garbled
by telephone; hydrogen and oxygen reunited
at sea; shovels still leaning patiently
against the wall of the garage. The hedge maze
circles back on itself to spit you out alone
at the booth where, only moments ago
it seems, you were buying your ex-lover’s ticket.
Out of the darkness, then into the dark again:
surely Freud would have something to say
about that. The tides touch base with shore.
Big Dipper blinking a Doppler farewell,
the closer’s hanging curve is belted to right. A boy
hops a freight train stopped in the yard, rides
across the Mojave, holding a loaf of bread—
his people are still out there, back east,
he thinks, in a Pennsylvania town lined
with red and white colonial homes. Clouds
dump snow on the churchyard, a girl
works a Rubik’s cube in a tire swing, and
at noon the leaves are blown into little piles
by a nameless man, who one version of the story
tells us used to be someone’s son.

Matt Morton was a 2013 Finalist for a Ruth Lilly Fellowship and a Finalist in Narrative’s 30 Below Contest. He has poems appearing in West Branch, The Cincinnati Review, New Ohio Review, and 32 Poems, among others. He lives and teaches in Baltimore, where he is an Owen Scholars Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars.
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