I don’t always make it back

 — Casey FitzSimons

I don’t always make it back
as all those bookmarks in dusty books
on dusty shelves attest. But sometimes
I do. So often I encounter
past, reading through present.
It seems that every line harkens to motif—
this open door of an empty house,
that fluttering curtain gesturing
to prairie. This invitation, that sendoff.
So messy and tumultuous, the present.
How does it happen that the past
becomes pristine as though time
lets dry some scab to shed
and fall, leaving tender shine
to masquerade as never abraded?
The knees of the middle child, vellus hairs
downward pointing below new skin, knees
propped modestly together, upwards, offered
as she sits smugly in her too-small chair
just handed down, in preference to the taller one
from which legs dangle obtusely, a shapely slot between.
She is fallen through the crack, no longer
small, no longer middle.  I am left
with books and watch self-consciously the gesture
of my hand tucking a scrap into the dry gutter
at some familiar place where, if I come back,
it will seem as if I’d never stopped.

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