The Return


I watch the red tailights of the taxi exit

into the bend on the right down this country

road that has brought me back to my place

of birth. Mother is sick again. Her kidneys

can no longer take the constant strain. It is

past midnight when I arrive. The house has

a gray pallor that is magnified by the quiet

thrust upon me. Everyone is asleep, and they

weren't expecting me anyway. I had longed

for sleep all through the plane ride, but here

now, I've over run exhaustion. I put my bags

down by the kitchen table, which is full of

pill bottles, and bills, and a calendar inked

with past appointments. I push it all away.

Underneath, I know I'll find where I'd etched

my initials in that old slab of oak. I run my

fingers across the deep incisions. Trace the

outline of a childhood memory. She had grounded

me for two months for that transgression.

That was the first time I told her that I hated

her, and slammed my door so hard the dishes rattled.

I sit down inside this thought. Then pull out my

pocket notebook. Saturday nights are the only real

time I have to write anymore. Classes, and work

pull time tight these days. I look out the kitchen

window to see how the wind has pushed the snow banks

to the far reaches of the wheat field. The light

from the horse barn is scarce, but just enough

to see three deer in the shadows by the creek bed.

I rest my head on the table, and begin to dream.

I dream about the rusty horseshoes hanging above

the saddles in the barn. I wake near four a.m.,

to see that the deer have wandered to another field.

Far away, but I still see them. They must be there