By Caroline Kelley

Summer 2010.

I’d dreaded the journey here
with hours of static-y radio
and thoughts of conversations I didn’t want to

Nerves knotted my stomach
as I waved goodbye to the familiarity
of the family van
and the last week of my summer.

New faces and old,
they all shared an expression:
an eager look
as if they wanted to be there.

I was thrown into routine
of chocolate milk sunrises
and ukulele concerts
on the old gym floor.

We ran each morning,
and by the afternoon
my shoelaces had unraveled
along with my apprehension.

The scorching sun melted our popsicles
and broke the ice
as nervous laughter
became campfire conversations.

Days of sprinting and splashing
turned into nights of moonlit magic.
disconnection from all that worried me
was what I discovered out in the woods.

Eyes tired from working overtime,
legs sore from the many miles they’d carried me.
Retreating to the wooden shelter,
a mist of melancholy departs
from the grey clouds above.
I reach the cabin safely,
gently guiding the creaky screen door
to prevent a slamming
And the well-known complaints that would ensue.

My flashlight illuminates
dozens of names
carved into the stacked beds.

I add my own;
on this last night here,
I find that I am home.