He’s been gone too long.
Those in the house, have not forgotten the face,
only the shape of the soul within.
With the awkwardness only a family
of unfamiliar people can have,
they welcomed and withdrew.
His mother, his father, his sisters, his brothers,
fully filling their home with their busy bustling
between buttering bread and placing plates,
the setters and the servers.
While he can only wait, watch,
outside of the rituals and routines,
written off years ago.
And so being apart felt familiar,
more than the noise of his nieces.
He climbs the hill that has always cradled his parent’s house in its lee.
He walks its scrub strewn streets,
its withered winding ways,
well worn when he, when they, walked them.
Explored time over in expeditions to the bedimmed beneaths of bushes;
Over lorded by older sister dynasties;
Devastated for dirty battles and strip-mined for staffs and stick weaponry.
Site of seed collections hoarded, lost, forgotten, sprouted.
He remembers the first time he took time to notice the roughness of a tree,
If he thinks hard, can feel the prickle of remembered bumps
ghosting his fingertips.
He stands by this tree,
The man’s coat no longer fits.
If he thinks hard he can still remember,
the security he felt inside his father’s car;
the pride in helping his mother’s gardening;
the sting of sibling unfairness,
and the warmth of sibling inclusion that even now in exclusion,
he can feel ghosting him just beneath the skin.
He feels it all so strongly here,
Will it evaporate with the electric lighting, etching away the dark?
But that he could draw them out here between the trees in the dusk,
let the dimness dissolve the face’s features and the differences of the years.
Let loose all nieces,
their screams and chatters like a long echo,
to remind the adults of their story.
Mashed-up, remixed, retold.