Maggie Smith


There's no rhyme for how high the corn should be
in September, but I can see it, and I'm telling you

it's up to my chest, maybe even my neck—
it's hard to tell from the road—and it's brown,

and judging by the sibilance when the wind
rubs the husks together, it must feel like paper.

I didn't see myself living among husks. I didn't
see myself here, not once I'd left my mother

and father's house. Not Ohio, not round on the ends,
not high in the middle
, not where some creeks

are called cricks. I always thought I would leave,
home-free, and go anywhere: land of silver

mesquite branches, land of dry riverbeds
with stones a horse could spark its hooves on.

Not here, not knee-high by July, not in the heart
of it all
, not where some cricks are creeks:

Alum, Big Darby, Blacklick. I didn't see myself
raising children here, raising as if they could

levitate if we focused our attention. I didn't
see myself dying in my hometown, not a few

miles from where I was born, not surrounded
by my children, their feet planted on the ground.

I can see them. They'll say they always knew
where to find me. They'll say I was always here.

Maggie Smith is the author of The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison (Tupelo Press 2015), winner of the Dorset Prize; Lamp of the Body (Red Hen 2005), winner of the Benjamin Saltman Award; and three chapbooks, including Disasterology (Dream Horse Press, forthcoming). She has received fellowships from the Ohio Arts Council, the Sustainable Arts Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2015 she joined the Kenyon Review as a Contributing Editor, and in Spring 2016 she will be a Visiting Assistant Professor in Creative Writing at The Ohio State University.

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