“Walking Each Other Home”

A Poem by Barbara Kingsolver

September 22, 2020  By Barbara Kingsolver

My friend lives on this road
the same as me, two hollows down,
two gladed mountainsides,

briar patches that go without saying,
fields in pumpkin or hay or fallow.
Once, we can never forget, a bear.

And once for too long a season
a road-killed deer whose return to dust
we both watched, the ragged pelt

dried to leather, the shipwreck of rib cage.
My friend alone saw the bear, and
told me of it, the winter of her chemo.

I was the one to see the deer
fresh struck, and had to find words,
though even now I can hardly bear

to say how I watched hooves beating air,
reaching for some blind heaven.
Between us, we know this map by heart.

I walk from my house to hers
and then together we speak of things—
or don’t, we are often quiet—

all the way back home to mine. Or she
walks here first, collects me for her return.
Either way, this is the road where we live.

Always we walk each other home.
And always we walk some of it alone.


How to Fly (in Ten Thousand Easy Lessons), Barbara Kingsolver

From How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons) by Barbara Kingsolver. Copyright © 2020 by Barbara Kingsolver. Reprinted courtesy of Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Barbara Kingsolver
Barbara Kingsolver
Barbara Kingsolver’s work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has earned a devoted readership. Her novel, The Poisonwood Bible, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and for the PEN/Faulkner Award. The Lacuna won the Orange Prize for Fiction, and Flight Behavior was shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction. She was awarded the National Humanities Medal, our country's highest honor for service through the arts, as well as the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for her body of work. Before she made her living as a writer, Kingsolver earned degrees in biology and worked as a scientist. She lives with her family on a farm in southern Appalachia.

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