Adeline Foster

Gold Star - 9,222 Points (Instructor of poetry, Hagerstown, MD)

I Cannot Return - Poem by Adeline Foster


I cannot return,
For all my need, for all my want;
The best of all I’ve ever had
I want to give to those I love-
The best cannot return.
The best is gone; the best is strange,
Foreign to those who were not there.
And yet they live within me still,
Memories I want to share.
Running barefoot through the frost,
That barefoot child today is lost.
Blueberry marshes and succulent fruit,
Worth the scratches on leg and foot-
The taste remains.
Thunder storms and hail-sized drops
That bounce on pavement curbs,
Purple Martins peeping from a hole
Neatly carved in a telephone pole,
Starlings nesting under the eves,
Hauling logs behind a team,
Walking the pole line, a day’s full walk-
Night is falling before we get back.
Lazy clouds on a summer day,
And oh! -the smell of new-mown hay,
Sand-pit hills, impulsive slides,
Raking hay and stacking stooks,
Never hurried, but firmly pushed
Through steady work that must be done.
An hour to lay upside down
On top a haystack in the sun,
Wild cucumber vines and columbines;
Strawberry picking one by one-
Mustn’t eat or you’ll never get done.
Butter sloshing in the churn-
Food-of-gods on bread at noon,
A whip-poor-will calling in the gloom;
And through it all time to reflect
Under the stars.

Northern lights and shining drifts,
Icicles forming in our hair,
Leading sheep out through the snow-
Single file on the path we go.
Early morning, lambs are birthing-
A joyous thing to see.
Bitter cold and the dark of night-
All of these are part of me.
Brittle wood in the cold of spring,
The bite of the ax and a hollow ring,
An hour to rest that because it’s there
Seems to stretch into a year.
Scripture reading and singing hymns,
Sunday walks, we know not where,
Dewdrops on a spider’s web,
A breathless moment to stand and stare,
Riding the horse to the county fair,
The river rushing down the sluice,
Hopping booms in secret fear-
Leisurely moments of youth.
Scot’s thistles blooming majestically
In a field nibbled close by lambs.
Daisy chains and trailing wreaths;
Wintergreen berries in melting snows.
Playing marbles in the spring-
Never pout if you didn’t win.
Bouncing balls off a wall:
Ordinary, moving, laughing, talking,
One hand, the other hand,
One foot, the other foot,
Clap front, clap back,
Clap front-and-back, back-and-front,
Tweedle, twaddle,
Turn-about, and under she goes.
Memories I cannot share-
I speak a language no one knows.
Acceptance of each day I lived-
All of these I cannot give.
They can return no more.

Memories of Life in the Far North

Topic(s) of this poem: ode

Comments about I Cannot Return by Adeline Foster

  • Moira Cameron (4/30/2016 1:30:00 PM)

    Before I moved to the Northwest Territories, which is even more north than what you describe, I lived for many years in Sudbury, and spent almost every summer or winter holiday on the shores of Lake Superior. You have certainly captured a lot of what makes North Ontario special. (Report) Reply

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  • Denis Mair (2/1/2016 11:40:00 AM)

    Apparently the present is a good moment, because memories like this come back in a spontaneously woven tapestry. Without a habit of appreciation and reflection beginning in childhood, maybe these memories would have faded long ago. This reminds me of Wordsworth's idea of natural piety- to honor the child who became the adult. Wordsworth said, My heart leaps up when I behold/ A rainbow in the sky./ So it was when I was a child, / So it is now I am a man.../And I would wish my days to be/ Bound each to each in natural piety, At the same time, your stream of remembered images reminds me of Whitman. (Report) Reply

  • Brian Mayo (1/9/2016 10:58:00 PM)

    Your poem is both beautiful and moving. Perhaps it's for the wish of reliving these simple joys that we need to believe in an afterlife. Your poem is so effective that it makes monstrous the mere thought that heaven might not be real.
    This poem earns you my respect and admiration, if you didn't already have it.
    (Report) Reply

  • Kim Barney (12/2/2015 5:29:00 PM)

    Adeline, thank you so much for inviting me to read this wonderful poem. It brings back such fond childhood memories. I could relate to almost everything except the Northern Lights. I have never seen the Northern Lights. My mother was born in Canada, but moved to the States when she was ten years old. I'm sure she must have seen them, but I can't remember her ever mentioning them.
    Hmmmm... sounds like a good title for a poem:
    Did Mother ever see the Northern Lights?
    (Report) Reply

  • Melvina Germain (11/20/2015 11:03:00 PM)

    What a Blessing this poem is, it touches me from the inside out and O yes I remember much of this, though some a little different. I didn’t walk the pole line but I did walk the very dangerous tar bridge and if we slipped and fell, game over. That bridge was the short cut to the circus and we wanted to get there fast. I often question why our parents allowed us to do that but no one was ever hurt. I remember picking strawberries and hanging out in an afternoon at Blueberry hill. Awww and the fabulous thunderstorms with amazing streaks of lightning, had my nose glued to the windowpane. Running barefoot but not in the frost, on wet grass, jumping in the Alamo, a dugout basement filled with snow, we called it the Alamo, and so much more now sits in my memory. You have delighted me and took me back to a time I loved and will never forget. Nostalgia is found in many of my poems and like you, I love to share. Thank you Adeline for the journey back, such a pleasure indeed… Amazing poem….. (Report) Reply

  • (6/20/2015 8:30:00 PM)

    Being a Canadian I can relate to all you have written in this wonderful poem. I am living in China now and reading this made me a bit homesich to be honest. Thank you for posting it. (Report) Reply

  • (12/20/2013 8:36:00 PM)

    Very vivid colors in this poem; it made me see your childhood quite clearly in my mind, and I was very moved by it. (Report) Reply

  • Sandra Regan (11/25/2013 12:08:00 AM)

    Great poem! I try to mark my best memories through poems like your poem. Check out: Crazy Prose on a Crazy Night (Report) Reply

  • Oyekake Satty (o. S.) Joshua (7/1/2013 4:26:00 PM)

    What a fun full life! Thank you for taking me through this journey. I enjoyed the trip. (Report) Reply

  • Bri Edwards (11/19/2012 12:56:00 PM)

    in the beginning you write memories i want to share, but at the end you write memories i cannot share. adeline, you shared your memories fine! we may not be able to return physically to our pasts, but, in some cases at least, thank goodness we have our memories. and if you or i someday lose our memories i hope that that is just an illusion that doctors and relatives have about us, and that within us they will still least the good ones. a great poem; THANKS SO MUCH. bri edwardsj
    see my previous two comments please
    (Report) Reply

  • Bri Edwards (11/19/2012 12:49:00 PM)

    i dared not go on with my comment lest i be unable to send it, as sometimes happens. i don't know WHY it happens but i have suspicions. reading that last sentence, i am reminded that sometimes when i write i use some words etc. that i almost never or never use while speaking to people. i wonder how many others have that experience. may\ be an idea for a poem? (Report) Reply

  • Bri Edwards (11/19/2012 12:43:00 PM)

    adeline, you commented on my poem....homeward flight. thanks for that. yes i read your bio, some time ago.
    thanks for that also. when you suggested i read this poem i at first thought you were telling me that you could not return to poemhunter or my poems or something like that. ouch! i did NOT realize that I cannot return was a poem. thank goodness i figured that out and i read it, enjoyed it VERY much and had several parts i especially liked, such as: an hour to lay upsidedown walking the pole line, a day's full walk food of gods on bread at noon i also like that you were not a prisoner-of-rhyme while writing this. i almost always use rhymes, but i've submitted one at least that hardly has any.
    (Report) Reply

  • Faith Franklin (10/26/2012 7:57:00 AM)

    i can just picture the the poem. (Report) Reply

  • Frank Mceleny (9/4/2012 12:10:00 AM)

    Well, your right Adeline, you cannot return. Memories are wonderful and we would not be without them and they make us who we are, in a sense, but they are hollow shallow ghosts. Time itself beats upon us like never ending waves shifitng the sand constantly. Take the memory of a loved one, its a reminder of what has passed and what cannot be retrieved. Dont get me wrong, I'll take ghosts over nothing. It presses home the need to live now. Jesus was revealing a startling truth when He told us to live for today, live in the now, live in his presence.........Frank (Report) Reply

  • Renee' Marie (9/3/2012 1:42:00 PM)

    Very vivid imagery I delighted in reading aloud to my partner as we drive to our kayaking adventure. This is my favorite line: The bite of the ax and a hollow ring (Report) Reply

  • (7/31/2012 3:55:00 PM)

    Your memories about childhood and rural life are beautifully written. The childhood probably makes us permanently be what we are now, the adults.We must always search in the memories of the childhood an explanation for our adult attitude.Great poem, Thank you for sharing.Mari. (Report) Reply

  • (4/22/2012 2:51:00 PM)

    Perhaps through our reveries we can.Thank you for taking me back with this nostalgic write, so poignantly
    rendered-sweet and dear
    (Report) Reply

  • Besa Dede (3/5/2012 10:35:00 PM)

    Adeline, thank you so much for sharing this beautiful poem with us. It brought me back to my childhood, every moment of everyday, of every year. Wonderful times, great memories...I do accept each day I lived, but I dissagree a little bit with you. you say they can return no more, I say, as long as we are able to remember those memories...even the way you describe so wonderfully
    Raking hay and stacking stooks,
    Never hurried, but firmly pushed. That means those memories are always with you and you can actually go back and relive those times...Just I did, while reading your poem...
    Thank you again and thank you for reading and reviewing my poems too
    (Report) Reply

  • Okoye Charles Chukwudi (12/27/2011 4:47:00 PM)

    country life well depicted in this poem...quite a youth...quite a time...lots of imagery...i love it.....thanks for sharing such lovely poem

    NB: thanks for reading my poem
    (Report) Reply

  • (11/16/2011 11:46:00 PM)

    ..many very nice images, life of
    Frost and poets..enjoyed.not to worry,
    says i..well, at least, every time I approach
    my guiding spirits, They tell me not to worry
    (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Poem Edited: Friday, August 7, 2015

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