Day 24 of 365 – Jennifer Horne

Day 5

Little Wanderer


So, there you went,
fleeing your mother’s death
and a love not heavy but bulky,

hard to get your arms around.
Off to Prague alone,
you promised your worried father

you’d call every other day
so he’d know you weren’t
“lying in a gutter somewhere.”

At the edge of some celebrity event—
a film premiere, perhaps—
you thought you spotted

Whoopi and Ted—
those years it was.
On the tourboat cruise,

you drank the beer bought for you
by silly Berliners
who took no advantage

just told the story of losing their video camera
off a similar boat in New Orleans
and left you to wander, slightly buzzed,

in a city garden abutting the Vltava River.
Years later, skimming exhibits
in a maritime explorium,

rays and Portuguese man-o-wars and eels,
you see, in descriptions of the sea life food chain,
the words “planktos, meaning little wanderer.”

And so you were, staying in an odd
but safe Bulgarian club-hotel,
avoiding night walks alone,

standing and clapping with tears in your eyes
after a performance of Smetana’s Czech Dances.
I remember you packed carefully, lightly,

slept in the single bed, your nun’s cell.
Read and wrote into the long-bright night.
Healed something. Knitted the heart’s fractures.

From Little Wanderer by Jennifer Horne (2016). Copyright © Jennifer Horn


Jennifer Horne is a writer, editor, and teacher who explores identity and place through poetry, fiction, prose, and anthologies. She has taught classes and writing workshops in varied settings, from university Honors students to school children to women in prison. Salmon Poetry published her second poetry collection, Little Wanderer, in 2016. Her previous books include a poetry collection, Bottle Tree, two poetry chapbooks, Miss Betty’s School of Dance and Tineretului, and a collection of short stories, Tell the World You’re a Wildflower. The editor of a collection of poems and co-editor of two essay collections, she has received fellowships from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the Seaside Institute in Florida. Raised in Arkansas and now based in Alabama, Horne has lived in Bucharest, Romania, and Oxford, England, has traveled widely in Europe, and is always pondering her next trip.

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