I Reached Back
by Jeannie E. Roberts

Beneath the deck,
chunks of broken concrete punctuated the ground.
Convened in darkness,
scattered portions of the back steps
collected near my hands and knees.
Inching along the loose dirt,
gathering the breakage,
I noticed something pink—
a doll shoe.
When silver caught my eye—
a child-sized fork.
As I continued to sift through the earth,
a penny emerged; black rind obscured its year.
Hot, soapy water revealed its making: 1978,
the year before I graduated from college.
How many families inhabited this house,
I wonder?
Here, children’s handprints graced the sidewalk.
Relics of the first owners?
The tiny hands reached out. I reached back.

On my hands and knees,
inching along the loose dirt,
an ocean of love swelled beneath the deck.
In shining waves of work glove delight,
my new-old house—
built in 1952, painted in Ocean Swell Blue—
reached back,
echoed the memories of my childhood
and the sweetness of growing up in an age
that convened in technological darkness,
where our living room brightened with laughter
and family,
with a two-dial,
black and white TV.

PHOTO: Found objects beneath the deck: fork, penny, and doll shoe. Photo by the author. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Recently, I moved back to my hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota. My house is located near my son and other family members. After 22 years of living in another state, I’m rediscovering myself, so to speak. For a couple of months, I’ve been cleaning, fixing, organizing, and unearthing things, including memories and found objects like the penny, tiny fork, and doll shoe. I’ve thankfulness for a full life, where everything shines as an extraordinary contribution to my day.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR; Jeannie E. Roberts has authored seven books, five poetry collections, and two illustrated children’s books. Her most recent collection, As If Labyrinth – Pandemic Inspired Poems, was released in 2021 by Kelsay Books. Her eighth book, The Ethereal Effect – A Collection of Villanelles, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books (2023). Her work appears in numerous anthologies and publications. She’s an award-winning artist and poet, a Best of the Net nominee, and a poetry editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs. She finds peace outdoors, listening to birds, identifying plants, noticing Earth’s beauty while practicing gratitude along the way. For more, please visit: or Jeannie E. Roberts | Facebook.