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, always,
“How can you leave Napa?”
as if this thirsty valley is an unparalleled paradise,
as if, beyond grapes and wine bars,
there is nothing at all,
just a drop off
to the end of the world.

Surely I will miss the valley slopes,
tawny in the summer,
emerald after the rains,
the tidy cascades of vineyards
wrapped with morning fog.

I want more.
I want to dip into my past,
become, in my seniority, a kid again
steeped in a world of fresh wonders:
anoles with ruby dewlaps
eyeing me from my porch light,
frogs no bigger than a thumbnail
tucked in the curl of a leaf;
fireflies sparking the night,
painted buntings
I thought were long gone.
Sting rays skimming the shoreline,
hermit crabs swapping one shell for another.
Powder white beach sand borne of 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 Lillian, Alabama. 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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