RETURNING HOME

These roads were a kingdom
of rot and bone; I pulled them

beneath my toes. The single
traffic light, the wet road

where we laid to watch
the gas station burn,

the cars who stopped to curse
our bodies—I hated it all

then, but what did I know?
It was here that I loved,

here where I learned to lay
the doves on the river’s surface

to rest as I would any beautiful
dead thing. And it was here where

I walked away and perhaps
where I learned to turn

back: to drive by my old home,
the bedroom where you kissed

me for the first time, or to park
the car and find, in horror,

beneath the tallest tree,
a small halo of bones.

If this town is a graveyard
then it is one of my own

creation. But I will remember it
only for the nights that we together

chased into dawn, the bronze
crown of your hair gilded in

the morning light, and how
beautiful you looked then,

and this town, how I imagined
I might even grow to miss it.


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NIKKI VELLETRI is a high school junior from Massachusetts. Her writing has been recognized by the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers and the National Park Service, and it can be found in Words Dance, Kingdoms in the Wild, and elsewhere.