Monday, August 3, 2015

Always Going Home (Poem)

On Saturday night, my family (my brother and his partner, my parents, and my husband, kids and I) gathered at my parents' house for fish and chips, chatter, and memories. My parents have sold the family home, where I lived from age 2 til 21 and my brother lived from birth til 25. They are moving out in a week's time, so this was the last opportunity to be inside the big red-brick 50s house that holds inside it the stories of our childhoods, all three of us - my brother and I, and our other brother who lived his short eight years of life inside those walls.

Emptied out, the rooms lie quiescent.
The paint looks all its years, bared of clocks and art and books on shelving
That one, there, was mine, I say to my daughters -
I painted that fascia, I chose that salmon pink. I can't remember why, now.
They already know, of course, but it seems like it might matter to say it, now
To name the barrenness of spaces stripped of meaning

Here is where my baby brother - yes, your uncle, that grown man there -
here is where he vomited Fanta on the floor. You can still see the tinge, look.
Here is where my mother made innumerable roast dinners; over here,
my father his laborious and occasional bolognese sauce.

Here I would lie in front of the gas heater, in my nightie, reading the Saturday paper
here, on this couch, my mother would stretch for a nap, or to watch Midsomer Murders.
Here the cricket flickered through on an older TV than this one; over here,
the ironing board exuded the scent of hot linen and effort.

Here is the pale pink bath, a survival of its sort; hard, skull-cracking porcelain,
not a place for toddlers to play.
Here, oh yes, here is where my parents have laid their heads to rest
the preponderence of these forty years -
my mother's perfumes tinging the air,
my father's socks lined up like Christmas hopes on the dresser.

Tucked away in here, the saddest room, the deepest -
here is where my lost brother lived, on his purpose-built bed, raised high
Mister Men wall friezes around his bed, the sharp scent of medicines
Here is where he went from, to the hospital and thence to whatever lies beyond -
This room, in truth, the longest emptied, the first to be drained.

Here is the sunroom, where we played with balls; here, the porch, a newer addition
(after my time living here, in fact. An intruder to memory, today).

Here is the house
Empty and strange, known unknown,
Here is the place to which the world clings

Here is the end of all the homecomings.

- Kathy, 3/8/15

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