We Started Home,
My Son and I
after Jaan Kaplinshi
We started home, my son and I.
Evening beginning. The small stains
of streetlight spreading across the sidewalk,
thinning to darkness every few yards.
My son paused at the edge of each
then leapt, one hand in mine,
to the next. Ahead, his mother
touched the meat twice before
turning it, rinsed the lettuce, called out
for his sister to wash her hands.
He said each spot of light
was a great land, each span
of darkness the sea. And we
followed his map home
out past the edge of town where night
filled the long blocks between
streetlights with oceans.
We rowed when we could, swam
the last few miles. Until the moon
reared up like an old man
startled from his nap. And once
again the roads of the world rose
beneath us. Before long, my son
and I were home. I watched him climb
the brick stairs to the front door,
whose key I no longer owned.
His mother waved as he fell
into the house, the bright rooms
splashed with light. The ottoman
covered with horsehair; a damask
draped over the sofa: I couldn't see
these or any other emblems of my
previous life. I felt the waters rise
around my feet, heard in the distance
the loose rigging in the wind, a buoy bell.
So far from the sea, I rolled up
my trousers, wading in
for the walk back.
--- From Comet Scar
James Harms
©2012 Carnegie Mellon University Press
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