Nostalgia and homesickness are pervasive emotions in an era when people often migrate far from their birthplaces. Carol Guess evokes these feelings in her prose poem “Nebraska,” a lyrical exploration of the nuanced, shifting relationships between people and the places they first called home.
A few excerpts:
In Nebraska the sun is a terrible lion which will chase you down the road you live on… Nebraska has cakes slathered in icing so thick bakers drown at birthdays…You know how not to get killed in Nebraska. How to drive in whiteout as if parting the sea.
When you first begin to think of leaving Nebraska the sky splits open, drowning the prairie in rain…Nebraska says, “Is this really what you want?" Nebraska says, "If you leave you can't come back."
Sometimes at night you miss Nebraska. You scrunch your pillow into a giant mouth and kiss it, saying, “Oh darling Nebraska, you big hairy bison,” and other things you are ashamed to repeat in daylight…
Then one day you wake with a craving for icing. You go to the bakery in this town by the sea. The baker is trim, and offers you wafers, delicate crackers made without eggs…Take me back, you think. You don’t say this aloud, but pack your bags, fill the tank with gas.