Home Sickness

This poem is another old one. I found it in my archives, complete with notes and alterations. I’m not sure, even now, that it’s finished or in final form. I don’t know why, but it spoke to me when I read it again, so I thought I would share it…

This place is not the same.
It creaks your absence in whale-boned walls
that bend and strain under weight of silence,
missing the sounds of communication,
the rise and fall of taken-for-granted conversations,
empty words scurrying between us
soft-lining corridor and room
with shared domesticity
until your leaving
strips them bare again.

I pace around the edges of the house,
avoiding corners where I might stumble on the scent
of a question,
the stagnated mould of a half-finished argument,
a fertile sowing-ground
ripe for your return.

I know you will return.
I know it by the legacy of threatening stillness
that challenges my right to build
bookshelves full of other voices,
other bindings than that of
me to you.
Held within this padded cell
I never heard the key turn in the lock,
focussed, as I was, on the softness of the fabric,
the silk-sheen cloth of your presence,
disguising frame of steel.

Now,
pared back to stone,
the walls still echo with your going,
yet when I call
there is no ripple of response,
no note of recognition,
to evidence my sole occupation.
Uninhabited except for dreams,
only the shadows move.
The silence feeds on your absence,
deepening,
speaking volumes.

If I could
I’d leave this mausoleum to its ghosts,
but the key remains
on the outside.

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