My Aunt’s House


at the start of the winding stairs is a picture I recognize, a face like my own,

from the country I heard was home, but not a place anyone could live—

only that it left those who left with a tremendous longing for a house;

one that looked just so and felt just right, filled with voices telling stories

and making jokes—unaccountable for the missing, the noisy saws and

hammers building, building, always rebuilding as if construction could

save the world one house, one family home at a time; and as I climb

these well-built, sturdy old steps I wonder too if it might be so—

you seem upset, my friend


the last time we talked I heard something in your voice

suggesting all might not be well, but, between us, if

you’re upset and dissatisfied, then let me offer

you a place—permission—to go and forget,

to leave there, in that place, all I did or failed to do

for you—where I have fallen short, forget—

and I will too

ancient civilizations

the children ate in silence while mom whittled away the hours on her phone—


what were they thinking? of the banter between the people at the next table?


that face-to-face conversation was a foreign object in the food court in late


August, a week before the start of school, when mom could go back to work


and kids to learning history lessons such as the one we’re living through now?


you came as a surprise

on my birthday, offering a purple scarf with silver-gray elephants,

something about holy images on a material piece of cloth meant to be worn—well,

you weren’t exactly sure how, but it didn’t seem to matter, being accurate,

when all you ever wanted was to be laughing and affectionate, deeply

loved in return, to be known as that friend who showed up

on my birthday, bearing gifts, however unsure

the years between might appear