Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

82. The Leaver

The crabapple Kansas of sixteen ran me mad,

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.



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