April 12, 2021

40 East to Knoxville

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J. C. Jordan

a grieving fortune teller
who reads death in every palm
my mother says, to make me ache,
you’ll never come home again

I know that I’ve been careless in my truancy
I’ve been wayward, hoping to drift,
Odysseus’ least successful protégé,
but when I left I didn’t mean to leave forever

take back your stinging accusations—
I have not been unfaithful to my mountains
or my southern dirt; no other land
has laid its grasping hands on me

I still dream of hazy summer like a fever,
your lilting tongues, and some goddamn
peace and quiet; even the churchyard
that nestles my blood’s dusty bones

remember me anointed, slathered thick
beneath the soothing liniment of where
I’m from, homesick, faithful lover
of a land that could never keep me

J. C. Jordan is a doctoral candidate in English at Stanford. This poem, which appeared in the print edition of LitMag, is her first publication.
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