Home Again Home Again

Original Text: 
The Ruined Cottage (Toronto: Wolsak and Wynn, 1993): 24-25.
1Your parents had reached a long slow time,
2as animals do, the great center of their lives,
4unchanging. Or as a day can seem eternal
5if you lie and watch the full clouds, conscious
6of your own time: you soon must get up and leave.
7So father, mother, the small shabby town,
8its patch of earth going on as though forever: you
9forgot them there, where they'd been since you started out
10and where you could find them again -- as anyone
11forgets what he has to lean on
12so deeply and heavily that it wounds his side
13and the pain seems only himself.
14Ungrateful? So you accused yourself one day,
15waking suddenly. And when you went at last
16to look for them where they always are, they'd gone,
17or were withered alive, their mouths opening and closing
18without sound. The buildings had leaned still farther
19toward the dusty weeds and crumbs of old machines
20littered everywhere inexplicably. And now
21who will explain them? Your grandfather's day
22is as absent from your thought as is your own
23gestation. And check the records:
24what is written down says nothing.
25The volumes all avoid the one question you have.
26'I'hey're like the notebooks you kept in adolescence:
27you turn the endless pages and you wonder,
28what did I know or feel, how did I live then,
29what was this violence and love, this utter newness,
30invention that could sing water and light, raging
31at the first touch of dying, never mentioning death?
32You went back and the bones of your native town
33were like that, records from which something had escaped:
34a skeletal mill that roofed ghostly technologies
35where men once worked, coughed, burnt, bled.
36And that way they had permitted the long pageants
37of the children and the mothers. Whose images,
38vague, identical, stalk by in the nights,
39each one sorrowing and serene, her starved, enamelled,
40hard flesh torn, her dress the blue of late dusk,
41the heaven behind her a work of flat blinding gold.


3] fells: skin. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
Special Copyright: 

<b>This poem cannot be published anywhere without the written consent of Albert Frank Moritz or the Wolsak and Wynn permissions department.</b>