(VARNER) GOING HOME

I wrote this poem a number of years ago, following my return from a nostalgic 40th anniversary year reunion weekend with my former high school classmates. It was the first one we ever held and also the first time I had seen most of them since our graduation and scattering to the four corners of the world during WWII and beyond. - Jug

GOING HOME
By Byron D. Varner, 1981

I went back to the old hometown to capture yesterday,
But somehow things were not the same as when I’d gone away.
Oh, there still stood some buildings that I recognized of yore,
And here and there a name I knew… a sign upon a store.

Most streets were as they used to be, but some of them had changed.
New ones had been added and the town was rearranged.
The old landmarks were all but gone, replaced by something new,
And seldom did I see a person that I thought I knew.

Those few acquaintances I saw had changed along with time.
“Friendly strangers, now,” I thought, “with lives so unlike mine.”
The passing years had not erased my vivid memories,
Of days gone by which I remembered in my reveries.

I saw myself still in my youth in all those yesterplaces,
With all my family and good friends and their familiar faces.
The things we did, the way we were, the good and bad times shared,
The way we helped each other and how much we really cared.

Then as this dream began to fade, I saw reality:
Another time, a different place, had changed my life for me.
The “good old days” had disappeared like mist a wind could stir.
Things aren’t the same as they were then. Perhaps they never were.

One can’t go home into the past, or try to make it fit.
Our present thought about the past is all there is of it.
Our real home is within us. It is right here where we are.
No need to search the old hometown, nor travel very far.

Today is all that truly counts. Tomorrow isn’t here.
The way we live our “every day” affects our “every year.”
And when that year becomes the past we then can look back, seeing
The worthwhile things that we have done to justify our being.