Returning – Laura Johnson


At what point do you give up
a love? Grow doubts, deny?
Try new things?

When what you loved,
Nilla Wafers for instance,
becomes a play on your name
and your big sister persecutes with
“Laura Anilla Wafers”
(vs. “Laura Anella Smith”)?

At some point a love gets tagged to
an outgrown age. “I liked Nilla Wafers
when I was three, now I’m into Animal Crackers…”

and “now I’m into Graham Crackers.”

Then you’re fifty, and Mini Nillas are on
display in a vending machine among
an assortment of other unremarkable
snacks, words are uttered, “what the heck,”
you slide the quarters in,
cling, cling, cling, hit 4D,
and there they land behind
the plastic, swinging door.

The first Mini Nilla awakens your inner three.
No, you are two, tasting these for the first time.

You’ve returned to your old religion,
the one you denied after seeing
ridicule on too many faces.
You embrace it again and it floods
spaces you didn’t know were empty.
Ah, the butter, the crunch, the vanilla.





Laura Johnson has recently been published in Literary Mama, Time of SingingBlue Heron ReviewThe New Southern FugitivesSnakeskin, and others. Her first full collection of poetry, Not Yet, will be released by Kelsay Books in April of 2019. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Fairfield University and teaches high school ESOL in the state of Georgia.


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