The exile no longer feels the desire to return

Of the one who left, they might say:
If you were better, you would return
to clean paths overgrown with knots,
porches leathered by mud and rain.
It doesn’t matter that neither
the houses nor streets exist anymore:
still, they will demand you find
the only plumber in town willing
to work with the puzzle of ancient
pipes. It’s immaterial that only air
and spiders gushed out of the taps,
that ivy climbed out of the well
and old appliances affixed their
thin ghosts to the walls: there
is where the refrigerator stood;
and there the halo from the stove,
the seam in the floor from the sewing
machine. But the one who left doesn’t
know how to find the junction before
the first migration, can’t remember
the four-number combination to spring
the catch from the lock. Most travel
anyway is inward these days: so much
back country, all sorts of weather,
pockmarked terrain. You wonder what
the first ones in space might have felt,
turning so as not to look too hard at
the centerless dark. Yesterday,
a driveway lit up by the moon; today,
rain’s faithful eraser hard at work.

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