Rebecca Foust

Altoona to Anywhere

Go ahead, aspire to transcend
your hardscrabble roots, bootstrap
the life you dream on,
escape the small-minded tyranny
of your small-minded Midwestern
coalmining town.
But when you’ve left it behind, you
may find it still there, in your dreams,
your syntax, the smell of your hair,
its real smell, under the shampoo.
Beware DNA; it will out or be outed,
and you’ll find yourself back
where you started, back home,
unable to refute the logic of blood and bone
you’ll slip, and pick up Velveeta
instead of brie. It’s inexorable.
Kansas one day will turn out to be Oz
and Oz Kansas,
with the same back porch weeping,
the same husbands sleeping around,
addiction, cancer, babies born wrong;
the same siren nights pierced
with stars seeping light, all that
gorgeous, pitiless song.

Rebecca Foust
“Altoona to Anywhere” first appeared in under the title, “Altoona to Marin,” in Dos Passos Review, Vol. 4, No. 2 Fall 2007.