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Thursday, July 07, 2022


by Tricia Knoll

Twenty-nine spaces in the US carry this name.
When the news broke, I wondered if it was my home town.
It was. The place I lived for the first twenty years of my life. 
My home town as much as any other. Where I was born
more than seventy years ago. I hadn’t wondered how much
or what had changed. Videos brought it home. The store
that was once Chandlers where every year I went 
with my mother to get new pencils, pens, and notebooks
 to go back to school. The shoe store with the Xray
machine. The laundry owned by Chinese Americans 
where the windows always dripped with water. 
Mr. Leeds' jewelry store. Across the street
I bought my prom dress to dance with my first love. 
My first bank account on the corner of Central. 
Learning to drive in town across the railroad tracks.
Our library. Smelling the alewives on Ravinia Beach 
where I learned to swim and loved a sun tan.  
Hearing Louis Armstrong sing "Hello Dolly" 
at the festival. My father’s service
on the school board. The flooded
field where I learned to ice skate. The miles
of roads where I careened around on a bike. 
The day a migrating whooping crane stopped
in our flooded back yard. Long ago. Green
skies over oaks before tornados. 
My feet once knew every inch of that parade route.
You never really leave those old home towns. 
The red flags didn’t wave true here. The young man
got his assault rifle in a state and town known
for its tougher-than-most gun laws.
I supposed I wouldn’t know anyone who was there
after all these decades. That wasn’t true.
I knew two people who fled the explosions, one
a man I went to school with who fled with his
grandchildren and one a woman who lived next door
to me as a child. Everyone says it can happen
anywhere. I know that now. 

Tricia Knoll is a Vermont poet. When media people describe Highland Park's 30,000 residents as a small town, she's aware that in Vermont Highland Park would be Vermont's second largest city. She worried about possible violence in June for friends in Portland, Oregon going to the Pride Parade. Her next collection of poetry One Bent Twig is coming out from Future Cycle Press in early 2023—poems reflecting her love and concern for trees facing climate change. She has written about the red oaks of Highland Park.