No matter where I go, Florida is my home

by Rosa Sophia

No matter where I go, Florida is my home

No matter where I go, Florida is my home

Soar upward into gray skies, I cringe at searing light
step onto the tarmac and breathe in city nights
born to ice and snow, slipping head first in the cold
could not find my path, my footsteps hidden by the flakes
thickening inch by inch until I’m ankle deep
numb and losing feeling

so I flew away through daytime clouds
blue skies of early morning
playing in my mind where warmth resides
and sand piles high, children laughing
small hands crafting granules into castles
instead of snow into haphazard, melting people

I drive down US Highway 1
as if I’ve always been there, born at 5:05 a.m.
as the sea breeze drifts in the window
of my mother’s bedroom, affording some relief as someone
nearby urges, “Breathe!” and I come into the world
small bleary-eyed Floridian in the Pennsylvania cold

no matter where I go, Florida is my home
as through my mind I hike in bliss through forests, marshes
jumbled foliage and cabbage palm, walk where the Calusa
once hunted, breathe in the air the Jeaga once breathed
and sit, legs curled beneath me, in a palmetto thatched hut
certain I was born here once

child of the Seminoles perhaps, but I’m thinking I was here
much earlier than that, and when I died they placed my body
on a slat, to rot my flesh away in the charnel house
then with loving care my bones were buried
made part of mother earth to merge
with soil, mud and silt

In the hammocks I explore, nimble fingers picking
shards of Indian pottery out of the muck, knowing I was
meant to be here in this moment, knowing this land
is my heritage, and what I find are
the fingerprints of my long-dead ancestors

standing in the courthouse in West Palm Beach
a wide window affords me a view of city sprawl
down below cars zooming along Dixie Highway
horns honking, slam, an accident, glass and plastic
everywhere, while in the distance blue water beckons
but I see none of this

the landscape melts into the past, trees sprouting
cement disappears to be replaced with soft loam
and I look with pride upon stretches of saw grass
wild untamed climate, here I made my home long ago
in the kingdom of my hammock, with a different face
a different life, but the same gaze darting toward the horizon
and no one can take this away
my heart and soul forever part of Florida
my home.

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