Beginning With a Porch Swing, on a Cool Evening: Natalie Wolf

This poem was published in the Dec. 2019 edition of Live Ideas. View it HERE.

It’s strange to think that it ever had a beginning, 

that this wasn’t always a part of our essence, sitting 

around a table in the viewing car, uncertainty ahead, 

Hamilton on the speakers both there and back, 

far too close to a mouse desiring to eat our souls, 

Braum’s and IHOP and Mexican and Cajun, so much 

trail mix, huddled in comforters watching HGTV, no 

heating in Chicago in January, with the glory that is 

Peach Nehi, touring the Garden of Eden, its owner 

dead, and far too many of us imposing on that kind 

uncle, taking a taxi, the loop, the subway, stopping, 

of course, in a house full of pigs, a house where 

dolls and sparkles scream at us from every surface, 

strewn about with our sleeping bags and pillows, 

eating crepes larger than our faces as the cold rushes 

in, then the wallet’s tragic tumble into the poo, 

the early morning rejection of a Bed and Breakfast, 

exploring Target (where do you go on vacation?), 

munching fresh French fries to Shakespearean improv, 

chased by an alpaca (llama?), down the yellow brick 

road, experiencing the marvels of space, giant mosaic 

toilet, painted plate, car made out of pop tabs, too 

late for the Arch, watching cute bats lap up fresh 

blood, swinging by Paradise (be sure to get a pic), 

almost out of gas, fixing the car with duct tape, 

down along the beach in January, stopping before 

the soft golden glow of a mountain of twine, so 

cringey, climbing and sliding like three little children, 

searching for a hole (historic) in a field in the dark, 

fighting through the traffic, to McDonald’s at 11 p.m. 

to eat our own sandwiches, watching a pendulum 

demonstrate the slow rotation of the Earth, and 

knowing that no cold will ever feel the same, 

playing M.A.S.H. like thirteen-year-olds, Gin 

Rummy and a bucket list while the Amish sing 

in their soft German, laughing at the memories 

and then the dreams, New Orleans, New York, and 

El Camino, looking out over those cliffs like Martin 

Sheen and knowing that we’ve made it all the way. 


Artist Reflection

When I think back on this poem and the memories behind it, I am immediately flooded with the joy of being in those moments, with dear friends, exploring the world one quirky destination at a time. I know that that sounds cheesy, but it’s true. I wrote this poem based on a prompt that said to write about trips I had taken that were all connected in one way or another, and I decided to focus on the ones I had taken with my best friend. Travelling together has become sort of our thing, packing up and heading off with other friends to various destinations within our reach. The Midwest is full of some fantastically strange places. This poem is made up of those uniquely personal moments that no one who wasn’t there can ever fully understand, that those who were there can always call upon as lasting connections between ourselves. “Remember that time when…?” I’d like to think that these are some of the moments that will cause me to look back, years in the future, and smile. 

Of all of the poems that I have written and had to write, this one is probably my favorite simply because it brings back these happy memories, these dear personal connections. It feels, as my best friend would say, “cozy, like a warm hug from memories gone by, but also brings with it the rush of those moments, the thrill of being young and happy and surrounded by friends, out on an adventure that you know will stick in your mind, living completely for that second in time. Walking through a field at night in the middle of nowhere. Sticking your car back together with duct tape. Freezing your butt off because your Airbnb doesn’t have heating. In Chicago. In January. They may not sound glorious, but these are the moments you will remember. 

So thank you so much to all of my friends for coming. It was so wonderful just to be able to spend time with you and to now have these wonderful memories to cherish and laugh at. I look forward to creating more awesome, quirky, fantastic memories with you in the future. 

Image Credit: “sunset 06-01-09” by John Fowler. Work is licensed under CC BY 2.0.  

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