Poetry by James Patrick Long

My Daughter Sees Her Future

“I could live here,” she says, meaning now,

this neighborhood near ours where we’re driving.

It’s a hillside with family houses, the arc where some 

trajectory landed, maybe where they’d aimed or just 

a little short. There’s even a community pool and 

we pass a group of children walking home from it,

their shoulders burdened only with beach towels.

It’s a slow walk, in flip-flops, as if they lived

so close they could be in charge of this place.

“It seems like there’s lots of kids here and stuff,”

my daughter muses, “and my kids would like that.” 

She’s skimming her thoughts into the future, 

trying them out like the light and smooth stones 

I skipped on the river as a kid, so many 

miles and years from here when I was her age

and life with my parents was all I knew. She says

what she believes is true, “I’d want a house 

with a spare room so you could come too. 

It doesn’t have to be a mansion or anything, just

a house like ours, where we live.”

James Patrick Long
’s poems have appeared in Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry, Appalachian Review, Kestrel and other literary journals. A two-time winner of the West Virginia Writers Inc. annual writing contest, he is currently finishing his MFA in poetry at Spalding University. Long is a native of Buckhannon, West Virginia.