Linda Parsons Marion 

On Russell

                        And he never had the sense of home so much 
                              as when he felt that he was going there. It was only 
                              when he got there that his homelessness began.

                                                              — Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again 

                              The woman on the porch 
didn’t know me from Eve, but she saw belonging 
in my face, in the snapshot I held, my alms cup 
begging one stranger to let another into the old 
house on the old street: Look, the same, only 
with green shutters, in snow. How could she 
know time’s lost enumerations—her letting me 
in was story enough. It seemed I had spent 
my whole life there, where cousins spun silly
and Aunt June’s de Ville was stolen in broad daylight, 
this block of barbers, drunks, and widows, 
tar like Bazooka sticking me to the pavement, 
a contrary child bent to whatever four leaves 
shuffled their fickle hand. 

                              Room to room, light led 
to light, ceilings proud and blowsy again, free 
of the dropped tiles my grandfather slung up 
to save heat. Rooms that spoke my first language—
the song of the grease can, the ironing board sagging 
with church clothes, cigarette burns, awful and ripe 
with the past. Rooms calling me once more before 
I abandon this shell of earth, before the Indian cigar tree 
sheds over the McClanahan fence, before strangers 
hammer hallways stripped to their studs, before I awaken 
to a porch smaller, so much smaller, than when 
I gathered dusk and corn husks with my grandmother, 
calling off, in my biggest voice, the streetlights 
coming on, on Russell. 



Linda Parsons Marion is an editor at the University of Tennessee and the author of three poetry collections, most recently, Bound. She served as poetry editor of Now & Then magazine for many years and received two literary fellowships from the Tennessee Arts Commission, as well as the Associated Writing Programs’ Intro Award and the 2012 George Scarbrough Award in Poetry, among others. Marion’s work has appeared in journals such as The Georgia Review, Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, Southern Poetry Review, Asheville Poetry Review, Shenandoah, Birmingham Poetry Review, Nimrod, Louisiana Literature, Negative Capability, American Life in Poetry, and in numerous anthologies, including Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia and The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume III: Contemporary Appalachia and Volume VI: Tennessee.


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