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When he left he swore never to return.
that was the first youthful lesson he was to learn.
A true adult speaks lightly of absolutes,
they often come back to haunt.
Besides, age provides enough of that
quite on its own, alone.

He saw many dusty roads, I’m sure of that,
as he and Leroy traveled south.
Knowing him, he ate it up and spat it back.
Youth has its ways, you know.
Although not always fueled by logic, the young just go and go
when a more wrinkled soul rests in the moon’s pale glow.

As tough times took their toll,
life dictated with the demands only it bestows.
The boys began to wear a bit,
a plight in time we all behold.
Thoughts of home began to look better
although further away, I’m sure.

They hit that dusty trail again,
this time without spring of step.
Change of direction, even aided by lighter pockets
provided not a moment’s pep.
While hitchiking,they prayed for speedy northern rockets.
None were to arrive.

In the “thirties time” it was a futile prayer,
that long road home from Florida to Virginia.
Even their youth could not them spare.
Hunger is a tough task master, he demands to be fed,
an all too often, all consuming fate.
They did what they could for bread.

Soon, but not enough for them, I’m sure,
home loomed over the horizon,
the smell of familiar country air manure,
a cherished fragrance that those of us who have left
know all too well upon our return.
They crept closer and another aroma rushed their senses.

Good fortune comes to us all, ragged, wretched, youthful
traveler no exception. Though dazed,
they could hardly imagine fate’s smile for them.
It was a church lawn party
in progress in the glen.
Can’t you feel their anticipation?
They must surely have been amazed.

After the travels telling toll, the boy
could not believe the golden flake of life’s sweet luck.
“Timing is of the essence”
would be his next lesson, and one not soon forgotten.
He was on the grounds now and found himself flooded
by the folks’ joyous chatter.

Familiar faces, some related, murmured in a fog.
The “welcome homes” that greet the wayward traveler
were not his burning choice.
Hunger is a demanding task master,
it led him to the sight and smell
he remembered only all too well.

When he spied his father, tears began to swell
He approached the sacred figure, the one he missed the most
while torn between raging hunger and the price he knew he’d pay.
“Meals don’t come cheap in the country,
the price is not always in the pocket.”
But his motivation was located in his stomach
as he stepped from dark to light into his father’s piercing sight.

Now… for that moment he thought of what to say.
What father could refuse such an honest gaze
and the words from his son, “Dad, I’ve come home to stay.”
His father answered while over the cooking heat,
pausing eye to eye and with a wise smile he said ….
“Hell, son, you’ve just come home to eat.”


by E.E. Biller

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