Prairie Poetry   
  The Homecoming

Stooping slightly, she drew a laboured breath
one hand on the pantry door, steadying herself;
one hand on my shoulder; 'Are you there?'
I smelt the talcum powder and the toothpaste
on her breath, and the faintest smell of
mothballs on her famous Sunday coat,
and her lavender perfume that made me sneeze and
choke, when I was young.
How many years has she come here like this,
Every year a phantasm of the past,
surrounded by the children of her long-dead friends,
and the ragged remnants of her own clan?
How many Christmas dinners, Sunday lunches,
haunches of meat, lakes of gravy,
thousands of sticky cakes in formal slices-
my head spins. I hardly know her, we have not
had ten thousand words;
her life to me is a smooth blank page and
yet, I am her next of kin, her sole bridge
between the living and the dead.
She thinks I look like my mother.
She tugged at my sleeve and smiled; we stayed our
slow and shuffling course across the sunny
room. With a small crow of glee, one frail finger
pointed, and she crooned
'pretty, pretty, sweet, sweet baby'
and his chubby fingers groped for hers
and held, and basking in her adoration, flesh of my flesh,
blood of my bones, smiled into her ancient eyes and
bade her, welcome home.

  Geraldine Moorkens Byrne
  Copyright © 2006 Geraldine Moorkens Byrne
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