To Be Alone Again in the Thick Skin
of this low-slung bungalow house,
August overcast and waning,
windows open to the breathings
of the distant interstate passing,
you and the kids on some errand,
no note on the kitchen counter,
the workday done, my computer
on and waiting, I feel so helpless
against a tide of emotion I can
only identify as a melancholy joy.
When I was a boy come home
from school to the farm alone,
my father working, my mom with
my sister to a lesson or something,
I would pass through all the rooms
in a daze, lingering, gazing in all
the mirrors, lying down on all
the beds, trying myself on for size
in every doorway, every hall. Or
I would wander the farm itself,
the lawns, the lanes, the fields.
There was no highway there to
trouble the sound of being alone.
The only noise was wind if there
was wind, or plane if overhead
a plane. I didn't know it then,
but we lived beneath the pattern
of flights from MSP International
to points northeast and pan-Atlantic,
and though they were so far up in
the air, their thin roar glimmered
in your ears if you strained hard
to hear. It never occurred to me
that one day I'd be tired of flying.
That the thrill of passing again over
my own hometown would finally
be lost on me. Looking back on
that clueless boy, I pity him
for who he became. For isn't there
something lonely about a life
that wasn't in the least foreseen?
I live in someone else's city, in
someone else's house, it seems.
It's as if one day I stumbled into a
giant jumble sale of dreams, and
left with my arms loaded, caring
only that I got some good bargains.
I'm not saying I don't love my life.
Your heart and this city and this house
are the only places I can imagine
belonging. But isn't that just it?
In, through the screens of our lives,
the song of the world outside comes
thronging in all its unexpected
discord. And we call that chaos
home, despite everything we love.