Nearly a decade has passed since I fled
your potholed streets and stony store clerks.
I’d buried a daughter and a marriage here,
and I didn’t look back.
A new town welcomed me, all warm-red brick
and tall live oaks thick with dove.
There, church bells rang out hymns
four times a day. My daughter played
with neighbor kids until dusk.
Random old people struck up
conversations in the grocery line.
It was impossible to be lonely.
I married and began to laugh again,
grew stronger, stood taller, felt safer.
But now, against my will and
because of it, and to do what is right
(because that’s what I do),
I’ve come back to you, Dallas.
My first week here, I wore my shell
and invisible weapons,
icy stare and shoulder chip
weighing me down.
Yet you are somehow softer than I remember:
Gentlemen hold open doors,
receptionists call me by name,
you are filled with people who are just plain
Sure, I expect the bottom to fall out of my car soon
because of your bumpy, neglected streets,
and that blonde woman in the Mercedes
cut me off in the carpool line this morning,
almost side-swiping a teacher-on-foot in the process.
But the teacher smiled and mouthed, “Thank you,”
when I stopped to let her cross in front of me,
and the AT&T guy was nice enough yesterday.
Of course, he’ll bill me for that.