Jo journals about home, both of them, the one she left behind and the one that calls her now.
Ages ago, in Iowa, the silvered, sinewy limbs of a cottonwood tree spread arms over our backyard like the inspiration for a movie-length Disney animation.As a kid it was easy to imagine the mottled, smooth bark turning flexible and flowing with expressive facial gestures, mellow and humoring on hot summer days; angry and menacing when wind thrashed in the leaves and storm clouds darkened the sky.
Here, though, in the present, in the gritty city of Chicago, the corn fields and cattle of home seems as distant as the night sky pale above the glare of street lights and neon signs. In the city, instead of trees it’s old buildings I picture with personalities, usually houses, often narrow and wedged between a supermarket and a 7-eleven. They take me by surprise sometimes, set back from the streetlights, hiding behind cement stoops. But when I look closely a gnarled, tarnished knocker on the front door or an etched glass window nestled beneath the widow’s peak, it’s like meeting an old woman with gray hair pinned in a bun, high necked cotton waist dress held closed with round, pearl buttons.