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Visiting a familiar and once-dear place after a long absence can knock the words right out of us. In this poem, Keith Althaus of Massachusetts observes this happening to someone else. I like the way he suggests, at the end, that it may take days before that silence heals over.

Homecoming

We drove through the gates

into a maze of little roads,

with speed bumps now,

that circled a pavilion,

field house, and ran past

the playing fields and wound

their way up to the cluster

of wood and stone buildings

of the school you went to once.

The green was returning to

the trees and lawn, the lake

was still half-lidded with ice

and blind in the middle.

There was nobody around

except a few cars in front

of the administration. It must

have been spring break.

We left without ever getting out

of the car. You were quiet

that night, the next day,

the way after heavy rain

that the earth cannot absorb,

the water lies in pools

in unexpected places for days

until it disappears.

 

Reprinted from Ladder of Hours: Poems 1969-2005, Ausable Press, Keene, N.Y., 2005, by permission of the author. Copyright 2005 by Keith Althaus. This weekly column is supported by the Poetry Foundation, the Library of Congress and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

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