From this House to Home

Has he called in the cats now, made certain
all are accounted for, that their bellies
are full, that they have not become food
for coyotes come down into porch light
for water?  Is he reading a book
under the cool warmth of our down
comforter, clearing his throat between
chapters as if he’d actually
uttered the words, lived in their world?
What is he doing right now?  I am
feigning sleep in an iron bed in my hometown,
listening to the hum of air conditioner
and my parents’ deep breathing.  Today
we had our reunion in weather
so thick I could barely breathe.  My clothes
were all wrong–the blue jeans and boots,
sweat streaming from under my cowboy hat–
brought sympathetic smiles from those in shorts
and cropped tees, their over browned bodies
glistening in games of horseshoes
and washers.  The women chased children,
sought shade, stretched on blankets, shared
photographs.  My sister brought potato
salad for fifty, cored onions
all afternoon, slipped fat slices of butter
and beef bouillon inside them, wrapped them
in foil for the grill, the smell of bratwurst
and beer a reminder of why we were there.
It was a good day, slow and full.  But now
I am ready to return, to truly
come home, to him, to our house in the high
desert, our often angry way of life.
I don’t belong here among women
wearing sundresses and sandals, clothes
the colors of Easter eggs.  I’m coming
home, sooner than we’d planned.  This is not
a place where women wear hats, and my family
is older now than I will ever know them.

Filed under: Poetry