We thought we hated it—
the town one square mile,
population under 1700,
so small our high school was in a different town.
Highway 86 shot straight through the center,
as kids we willed semis to honk from the curb.
The smell of dirt and tractor tires
made the town seem dirty and trampled, even to us.
A grain elevator was the centerpiece
shadowing the beauty of our old downtown buildings:
the brick post office, four-aisle grocery store, pharmacy,
the old blue water tower. The old horizon replaced
by hundreds of wind turbines
pumping arms round and round,
red dots blinking harmoniously
for miles in the dark country where we no longer dwell.
When we did, pink harvest husks would line fall streets,
snow forts gathered in every winter yard,
and every hour of summer vacation was spent at the pool.
During college summers we climbed the fence for a midnight swim.
We drank beers at bonfires in backyards.
We walked around looking for anything.
We hardly return anymore
because we’ve gone searching elsewhere.
But we can’t help remembering
this is where our brothers taught us how to drive
stick shifts, panicked and blowing out clutches,
reversing down the only hills in town.
This is where we ran at whim,
tried to set foot on every street (we did it—eight miles).
We ran alone at dusk, the entire street ours.
Cars honked because the men inside actually knew us.
It was hello.