ran me away from the flatness and fleeting
green, ran me to the woman, St. Theresa,
the cherub-faced social worker, who I would meet
much later, mid-twenties. She held the same promise
of an unborn child, the promise that in the end
all becomes dirt. There were women to love,
but only if I could confuse love
with its opposite, and only if the women were fine
believing the lies we lay down to create, lies like whispers
of ourselves reflected in our glisten and sheen.
I met illness too. For me,
cancer. But what is all of this to Kansas?
What of St. Theresa, who sold a cocaine death,
who sold addiction and called it artistry,
who etched the minutes in my face
like years, who tried to feed me and fill the hole
left from losing those childhood
plains? Does Kansas miss
the leaver, and will Kansas keep me
if I return? You will never know
my Kansas, never know its summer song
sung over wheat, whistled by wind, the hollering promise
of salvation for those of us trying to crawl our way back.
Kansas can never be home until it has been lost.
— Allison Berry
Allison Berry was born and raised in Pittsburg, Kansas. She received her bachelor’s degree from Cornell College and her master’s from Pittsburg State University. She lives in Pittsburg with her wife and son, and she teaches English and Women’s studies at Pittsburg State University.