by Rebecca Guess Cantor

The palm trees stand above me,
a subtly curving halo for this,
the city of angels. They line the streets
shielding me from smog.

It’s different here. I’m always looking up
through sun roofs, skylights;
sitting in traffic
but enjoying the warmth.

I think about you, shoveling our driveway
with your head down, determined,
whenever I see your region
shaded a light blue on the television.

I think about the home we made,
the shutters, hanging hinges, marbles
mixed with gravel, plastic toys scattered
on the deck, plastic pool

filled with rain water, the gas fire burning
an inch of blue flame,
the door with the half-moon window.
I said that I’d be back to shovel the snow,

that I’d write more, call
on days like today—a birthday, our son’s.
That morning in the hospital two years back,
I couldn’t open my mouth

without a promise sliding out.
Best father. Best husband. Provider. Protector.
You’ll never have to worry, I said.
And on that morning I meant what I said.

But I’m here now,
and there’s something about the palm trees,
the ocean, the light.
And I may not be back this winter after all.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem about my home but from the perspective of someone escaping from some other place and some other life.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Two Palm Trees with Los Angeles in Distance” — postcard available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rebecca Guess Cantor writes about names and naming, literature, women’s issues, and women in the Bible, among other subjects. She received her Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University in 2011 and is currently the Director of the Writing Center at Azusa Pacific University. Rebecca’s work has appeared in journals including Two Words For, Mezzo Cammin, The Cresset, and The Lyric.