A re-draft, shared with The Mag.
LEAVING HOME AGAIN
Today the cupboards, the switchback
stairs, the ignored corners are smoky
with ghosts. I’m trapped in doorways
in a cobweb of memories. My voice,
swallowed by its own echo, calls out
names like spells in the empty hall
and the dead arrive - the mythic
drinkers, party dancers, fumy demons
of my parents’ days; these the
war heroes of my dark age. They
populate the corridors, the fathomless
rooms of childhood, dressed in
pipesmoke tweed and flannel,
carnival skirts and cannibal lipstick.
And, where once I bounced
like a dropped ball in between legs,
eye-level with cigarettes and wedding rings;
where once my fish voice swam
inside the mill-race of their laughter,
now I watch brief dust rise from
bare boards and listen to the ticking
of a house settling onto its bones.
Warmer by half without than within,
here across the prairies and pastures
of my history, the unturned earth
discharges the cadavers of my tinplate
troopers, and the borderline of apple trees
and privet, uncut roses and hibiscus,
seals off my secret nation from the future.
The house behind recedes, half-hearth,
half-dream. And, as I claw back the gate
and let the street lap the lawn’s edge,
a high window ripples and stills -
one of the old gods, powerless now.
I pass through the time-lock,
leaving home again.