Poetry contest judge Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon writes of Pauletta Hansel's work:
A present absence, “nobody” skulks through your hometown in “Home Is the Place Where, When You Have to Go There, You Only Think About How to Get Out.” Tired-looking “[n]obody cares/this is where your mother used to buy her meat.” Callously indifferent “[n]obody cares about your old woman body/grown on the bones of the girl who walked these streets.” And within the accreting list of everybody’s inhabiting the poem, one discovers the possibility of one’s having slipped into the skin of that ghost, slipped stealthily from flesh into memory, and like fog slipped away. The absent horses rendered so starkly in the poem’s last lines reveal this escape, seen from the lonely vantage point of return, for the melancholy miracle it is.
Home Is the Place Where, When You Have to Go There, You Only Think About How to Get Out
by Pauletta Hansel
Winner, 2019 Poetry Contest
Busted-up doll heads where the canned goods used to be.
Sunsteeped, hillbuckled sidewalks, and everybody
just looks tired. Nobody cares
this is where your mother used to buy her meat.
The houses you lived in plowed under,
moles scuttle through plumbing cracked with black dirt and roots.
Nobody cares about your old woman body
grown on the bones of the girl who walked these streets.
Everybody has their own worn bones.
Everybody remembers you, sort of.
The newspaperman calls you by your mother’s name.
You can’t remember the name
of who you sat next to in math class or whose backseat
you crawled out of nights, the river fog
so dense you came home hair and misplaced clothes
all damp and smelling like mountain. Nobody cares
you know this town by what is gone, the stench
of grease spilled from the closed pool hall, the mailbox on the corner
where the boys sprawled, pelvises jutted out to block your path.
You pull up your car too close to the high curb
somebody told you was made for hitching horses.
Nobody had any horses.
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