I Appear in Photos of Groups of Children

I appear in yearbook photos
and classroom photos
(a preschool one on wooden chairs,
and I’m not the only one showing
my underpants — dresses were short
in the ’70s, and I was 3 years old
or 4, because this was Nashville
and we moved to Seattle when I was 4)
but anyway, I appear in photos
of groups of children
starting in Nashville (or should I
call my homes by their actual names? —
suburban towns, not cities, but
the city names help with
echolocation).
OK, in Brentwood, Tennessee,
and then Kirkland, Washington,
Thief River Falls, Minnesota,
Englewood or Clayton or Dayton, Ohio
(this one is a puzzle because where
were my schools, and what was the nearest
suburban town, but then should I echolocate
to where we lived, which was just within
city limits — Dayton?), and then
Worthington, Ohio (oh, Worthington!,
went our alma mater, sing we now),
I appear, and these are the places
where I was with other children, daily,
available to be photographed,
though a whole other small, semiprivate life
occurred before then — Columbus, Ohio,
before Brentwood, Tennessee, and before that,
Redmond, Washington, though I was born in
Bellevue, Washington, at Overlake Hospital,
which my husband and I drove past
a few years ago, on one of those trips
we take because I must loop back
every so often, over and over.
Overlake
sounds like a good place
to start from, begin leaving
frost on other people’s windowpanes,
mysteries in other people’s photo albums
(or shoeboxes),
and I know that it snowed
on the morning when I was born,
in the place I am not from.

____________________________________________________________________________________________
Today, Imaginary Garden with Real Toads had an optional prompt (I mean, all of this is optional, but this was more so), to write a poem inspired by Alice Merton’s “No Roots.”

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