Rebecca Foust

Altoona to Anywhere

Go ahead, aspire to transcend 
your hardscrabble roots, bootstrap 
the life you dream on,
escape the small-minded tyranny
of your mountain bound 
coal mining town. 

But when you’ve left it behind, you 
may find it still there, in your dreams,
in your syntax, the smell of your hair, 
its real smell under the shampoo.
Beware DNA. It will out or be outed, 
and you’ll find yourself back
where you started, back home, unable 
to refute the logic of blood and bone, 
you’ll slip, and pick up the Velveeta
instead of the brie. It’s inexorable.
Kansas one day will turn out to be Oz 
and Oz Kansas, 

with the same back porch weeping, 
the same husbands sleeping around, 
addiction, cancer, babies born wrong.
The same siren nights pierced
with stars seeping light, all that
gorgeous, pitiless song.