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i. fertilize my field

in that town, i was baptized
with a watering can. cold droplets
traced rivers down my shivering back.

when i was young, we boxed our belongings and took them
elsewhere, and i was a sapling being grafted. i became too
scared to speak, so i penciled my troubles onto paper and
gave the wooden curses to my mother with tremorous hands:

i cannot be grafted, i cannot be grafted, i cannot be grafted,
and please repot my perennial fright.

shyness was planted into my third-grade soul. i am still
pruning away the brittle leaves,
hacking at its trunk, clawing at the rot.
sap clings to my fibrous fingers.

i combatted rainy tears
during my piano lessons as i dragged my bloodied fingers
across the thorny keys, or in classrooms where i was
nailed to a crucifix of fear, or with the
judas people i wanted to be my new friends.

ii. weed my flowerbed

if i were blessed, i would not sometimes be an
etiolated eve drifting through the garden of eden.

i visit my built-up hometown and
remember i am not a local
anymore, even if that was the holy
loam i first trod on.

imagination invades reality and the idea
germinates: that could have been me.

that could have been me. and i have a vision: wandering
that school’s redolent halls and
mingling with that petaled crowd and
never knowing the difference.
my hometown friends are merely
faces in my chlorotic yearbook:
have those trellis kids with
tendril hearts forgotten me yet?

iii. pollinate my blossoms

it’s ridiculous that i cultivate nostalgia for that home
but i feel wilted when i see the people who also grew there.

the last time i saw them, the taste of goodbye
lingered on my lips like bread and wine and
i don’t know how to resurrect
hello after eight years of silence.

wandering through my old, ivied neighborhood,
i wonder if it missed me, and i kneel in my gethsemane,
and i trowel a hole through the memory of my home.

cultivar people in my new town
talk about that place and i think about
how the soil nourished me in that place.
but i don’t know that place anymore,
and after so long, it doesn’t know me.

even though i have sprouted since i got here,
i am still taking root because i am still floral homesick.

This piece was selected as a winner of the AAA’s AnthroDay Student Unessay Competition in the high school division. Inspired by the World on the Move exhibit, this year’s unessay competition focused on migration. Selected prompt: “Do you or your family have any stories about moving? If so, share one.”


Kate Rowberry

Kate Rowberry is a high school junior who has studied anthropology through Sierra College. She enjoys writing and loves linguistic anthropology because it embodies the intersection between words and people. Her work has been recognized by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers and appeared in the Global Youth Review.

Cite as

Rowberry, Kate. 2022. “Homesick.” Anthropology News website, September 14, 2022.