When Shelby left home for college that fall,
she couldn’t have known she’d never return
to that house, that town, that set of parents
or her old high school crowd. Her romantic
sense of the ideal would forever change.
In university her mind would alter.
No questions asked when her alternator
went out causing her old car to falter
before she reached Atlanta. Nothing changed
her mood, caused her to think of returning
to the idyllic town where romantic
notions had been formed, She called her parents
and waited for her father, the one parent
she had always trusted to come to alter
every problem she ever faced, romantic
or otherwise. She never dreamed he’d fall
from grace before he could make the return
trip to Anniston to the wife he’d exchange
for a younger model who gave him change
for coffee on I-20. Her parents
split the cloth when her father returned
but it wasn’t the father who altered
the state of her parents marriage that fall
day. Her mother had her own romantic
adventure going long before romance
in that happy home had begun to change.
Shelby, too had some adventures that fall,
exploits that stood those of her parents
on their ear, despoiled the church’s altar
and left the town quaking at her return,
But there was no need for her to return,
to live again within the romantic
bubble of high school life, haltered
and bridled by limits unchanging
or fresh rules hammered out by the parent
teacher association for kids each fall.
To have returned, would have virtually changed
the romantic direction of her parents,
alter a college prexy’s breach that fall.