Defending Alabama


Tell people you’re moving
to Alabama and their mouths
drop open.
You might have said

“Alabama! Why?”

You rush to explain:
family, first of all,
then the Gulf, so close—
dolphins, sea turtles!

Hurricanes, they counter.
And then, always,
“How can you leave Napa?”
as if this pricey, pandering valley is an unparalleled eden,
as if, beyond wine bars and vineyards,
there is nothing at all,
just a drop off
to the end of the world.

How to explain that you want to dip into your past,
become, in your seniority, a kid again,
to see a world steeped in wonders:
emerald anoles
eyeing you from your porch light,
frogs no bigger than a thumbnail
tucked in the curl of a leaf;
fireflies sparking the night,
painted buntings
you thought were long gone.
Sting rays that skim the shoreline,
hermit crabs swapping one shell for another
right before your eyes.
Powder white beach sand
borne of New England granite.
Sea monster fossils sixty feet long.

How much time do I have left?
How can I stay where I am?

Published by

Jean Ryan

Jean Ryan, a native Vermonter, lives in Napa, California. Her stories and essays have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies. She has also published a novel, LOST SISTER. Her short story collections, SURVIVAL SKILLS and LOVERS AND LONERS, are available online. STRANGE COMPANY, a collection of short nature essays, is available in paperback as well as digital and audio editions.

7 thoughts on “Defending Alabama

  1. That’s it! I’m sold! We’re going to move near you and Cindy if only to see the world as you do.
    As Johnny Mercer wrote, There’s such a lot of world to see…..

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