I knew I was home when I walked down a path
of decaying leaves, through a bridge of tree limbs.
You couldn’t even drive on this path that led me home.
That made sense as I’d always liked the country,
the far-awayness and difficulty of it, the chance
of your neighbor pulling a gun on you or on another neighbor,
the chance that the smoke in the air was someone burning leaves or
maybe burning their house down for the insurance. Yes, that’s my idea
of home – picking around the remains of someone’s burned-down house
for the chance of finding really good wild strawberries there,
little patches of violets, the trinkets of divestment.
You never get lonely in the woods. I’ve never been frightened
of bears, they left me alone, or the birds. There’s the comfort
of the knocking on hollow branches, the scratching song of insects,
and those tubes of sunlight that show up on the path, lighting the way.

Jeannine Hall Gailey served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She’s the author of five books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, and Field Guide to the End of the World, winner of the Moon City Press Prize and the SFPA’s Elgin Award. Her work has been featured on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, and in The Best Horror of the Year. Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review and Prairie Schooner. Her web site is