First night: In mother’s house

Stay, she says, plumping up pillows
on a makeshift bed. The window frames
are painted red, the rough floor

thin with yawning gaps
through which I can hear
the wind razor through

crowded houses on the hill.
The rain is overgenerous
and does not stop. I count

the frames she’s nailed up, willy-
nilly, on the wall— Pictures
I painted when I was a girl:

rivers and expansive fields,
still lifes, canvases suffused
with roses, bright lemons fallen

from a faceted crystal bowl:
as if a metaphor too for the old
life we used to have. And though

I could have, I did not visit
the street where, a lifetime ago
we’d made our home—

I feared I could not bear the sight
of ruin; or worse, of empty space.
Days later, when we rode past,

I was grateful for the new
gas station and the downpour,
relentless, that obscured my view.

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