To You Who Live in My First Home: Fredericksburg, Virginia

I hope you are a woman.

Your husband, newly wed, lives there too, but

you are a woman. Living, laced, in latticed brick,

you fill your cheeks with cherries on Cherry Street, Fredericksburg,

to prepare yourself for the sweetness waiting

to come with life in this home.


When cleaning the sticky cherry juice from

kitchen surface, do you wonder which lives got

unstuck from home linoleum? Which life broke

into your home, like my own, 1994?

Torn asunder from Motherland

to living fabric where

breath is taken on one’s own lungs’ terms.


Was your garden torn from Manahoac hands

in 1782 by gasping Motherland Europeans—

a few ancestors of mine—where you now plant and prune

roses in red, white, and blue? Have you ever found

those Manahoac bones in your housewife dig, to one day show

your son as dinosaur fossils?


Your son who will grow into the face

your husband inhabits. His bones, your eyes

gazing on son’s father:

like the world did on forefathers, playing power, 1775,

under Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.


The same umbrella under which my mother met my father,

Trinity Episcopal Church, built 1877,

harbored their love 1989,

saw the marriage ’92.

Dear housewife, have you ever been there?


When you traipse through the halls, running your hands

through the lingering, dusty air of what once was,

do you ever see the ghosts my parents say live there?

(In such an old town they’re everywhere),

and wonder which ghosts will move from

the moments passed in this Cherry Street home

to the haunted house of your memories?

My oldest ghost was sown, to prompt death,

in your backyard:

two-year-old fireflies, like

the golden dust stuck in your cherry-sticky housekeeping.


Have you heard of Fredericksburg’s Civil War haunt?

Will you take your family

to the battleground, 1862, for picnics, as mine did?

Brother (1996) and sister (1994) playing,

under siblinghood, next to the pasta salad,

over the memories, ghosts, bones of brother killed by brother.


Look at the nursery you painted yellow, 2015,

and remember my life.

Not the one that came to be, but the one that was

lost in this house.

fill y(our) home with past lives to be, and when you

discover your first child, bury your arms into the backyard’s soil

for a few days, next to the cherry tree. Let your arms root themselves

into the lives your plotted earth has known and mingle

your thin fingers with your child’s nourishment in


LIZZY NICHOLS is currently studying English at Northern Arizona University, and her work has previously appeared in Prompt Literary Magazine and Cardinal Sins. She also writes for and speaks poetry in the band, The Grandpa Rosevelts. She has previously won the participation award in her high school science fair, and lives with her two randomly assigned roommates in Flagstaff, Arizona.