The Reluctant Writer: Something Else to do When I Should Be Writing

March 26, 2009

On not leaving

Filed under: Columbia,poetry,writing — cynthiaboiter @ 04:24
Tags: ,

As it turns out, the Earth did not open up and swallow me when I posted a copy of one of my poems a few days ago.  So here I am, tempting fate once again, by posting another little concoction of mine, my heart thumping loudly at the very thought.

This piece deals with what has become a great mystery to me — the attempted migration of South Carolinians to the outer reaches of the world, only to find themselves (ourselves) drawn back to the Carolina shores like parturient loggerhead turtles.  So many of we native Sandlappers try to leave; fully intend to leave; leave and never, ever come back — only to find ourselves, back in that moving van, crossing into the land of sweet tea and frustration once again. 

I remember driving down Harden Street in 1982, all of my wordly possessions recently loaded from our apartment on Blossom Street into the back of a rented truck.  I looked around at the city I was leaving with relief. 

It took only three years and one master’s degree before I found myself crossing that state line once again, coming home, literally, to roost.  Two years plus two baby girls later, I never considered leaving again.

So, here’s to South Carolina — and to the dizzily befuddled people who for some mysterious reason continue to call her home.


On not leaving Carolina

By Cynthia Boiter


We try to leave Her

But she doesn’t let us go


Her soft moist mocha skin

from which we grew

like honeysuckle

like kudzu

           our roots stretching for miles and decades

           for generations


Our arms

reaching toward the mountains

           toward the clouds

           the moon


We set out


           on our journey


To see

what lay out there

           beyond the blue smoke

           across the green sea


           our backpacks full of

           peach fuzz and watermelon seeds

           invisible maps of pockmarked country roads that

                        lead nowhere

                        and everywhere we ever wanted to go



We gird ourselves

against harsh winters

            wrapping our shoulders in memories

            of sun soaked Januaries

            and summer mornings so hot

            they curl us into cocoons



            It is the humidity.




We sleep


stars pointing South

remembering the waltzing bob of the loblolly bough


Our bodies

             prickly and spiny

   like okra

             cozily mucilaginous inside


We wake

hungry for warm smells

            baking powder, flour, chicory

            grease that pops and hangs


Our ankles

            itch for dew


We crawl


            into our mother’s arms





with gifts from our travels abroad






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