You are the scarecrow,
faux, in Grandpa’s pearl buttons
and Goodwill corduroys, asking our birds
where they’ve been. For vision’s sake,
I’ve duct taped those boots you outgrew
to the straw feet, so when I kneel at this lack-
luster altar, it really is you, twin emerald.
Like we were taught, I lay my sins
at your feet, Farm Boy God, and drag
myself away, not looking back, imagining
my aches and hollers
and all those beer bottles, pill bottles
we found inside your gun safe are seed.
And sure enough, sunup, I bring you a scarf
to see the discarded parts of me gone--
your coarse-feathered birds fed
with our misery, Farm Boy. In this way
I don’t have to fear burying you. Here
you smile, stagnant in humidity, laughing
at me: Tennessee, Tennessee.
My name belongs to your broken voice.
Brother—Mother isn’t sick anymore. The doctors
think they fixed it. And Father isn’t angry. You
can come back to us, boy. Your favorite
chicken just had babies, and the dog
is starting to catch on. I’ve begun talking
to no one again. You know how this goes for me--
The mirror hates me with your face. The pasture
is never vast enough.              Be home.
I need a place to stay.
• • •
TO READ MORE POETRY, PICK UP A COPY OF VOL 55 No. 3&4
TENNESSEE HILL is a 2022 Gregory Djanikian scholar and holds an MFA from North Carolina State University. She has been featured in Best New Poets, POETRY, Beloit Poetry Journal, THRUSH, and elsewhere. She has work forthcoming from Nimrod and Arkansas International. She won the 2022 Porter House Review Editor’s Poetry Prize and serves as poetry editor for Gingerbread House Literary Magazine. She lives and teaches in Houston.