As a girl, I dreamed of flying
away from the foothills with their one-stoplight
villages, and mail pouch tobacco barns, and abandoned
storefronts with paint-chipped signs.
I would be like a bird—maybe an albatross—holding the world
and all within it in the center of my coal black eye, tasting all the sea
breezes, but never being tethered by a nest or a burrow or an Appalachian holler.
Like most birds, perhaps, it took leaving that place to realize
how I missed in my bones the way bright orange jelly fungus blooms
from the rotting wooden railing over the creek after a heavy rain, and the bottle
green pond reflects the surrounding beech trees like a dark mirror,
and the great Ohio River churns, ever-coursing to the sea.
The ruby-throated hummingbird travels thousands of miles
on paper-thin wings to suckle the sweet nectar of the passion flower,
but before it can decide to stay there in the South Mexican sun and make a home
in a yucca tree, a compass deep in its breast starts ticking, pointing
towards some familiar garden in the foothills of southern Ohio
and it knows it must go.
Megan Hutchinson is a fiction writer and poet from the Appalachian foothills of southern Ohio. She received her fiction MFA from Western Kentucky University and her writing has appeared in the Kentucky Philological Review, HeartWood Literary Magazine, and Ponder Review, among others. She also won first place in the 2020 KSPS Grand Prix Poetry Contest. She is currently the editor of a newspaper in rural Kentucky.