Return to Me
If you are going to stay away from home for four years, you have to come back long enough to shed your own strangeness. A week is only sufficient to remind you how much you've grown away from your roots. A nice place to visit, you think. But it's true what they say, you can't go home again. By week two, the place begins to feel less like an artifact, and more like a living place that exists independently of your own history. People live here, you realize. Out of choice. You chose differently. You wonder why and what if.
Somewhere after the third week, you come home. Every morning, you laugh at the three pairs of high heel shoes in your suitcase. Whose are those? What was she thinking? You walk around the corner to your sister's house in your flats, across a lane that descends at a 60 degree angle to the bay. Your hair is as wild as seaweed in a churning sea. The styling products you brought languish in your luggage, rendered useless by the salt air and wind. Forgotten words and phrases drift into your speech, roll off your tongue smooth as beach glass.
Last night I came back to Innisfree, the land my grandparents lived on, and where my parents had a cottage during my growing up years. The sign gives it another name now, and rental chalets stand in the old orchard. The cottage is gone, as is the house my grandfather died in. But the tall grass still grows in the upper meadow, the birches still stand, the hedge of wild roses still blooms. The river goes on and on, the ashes of my grandmother and father mingled in the silt beneath.
I know every root, branch and hollow as well as I know the lines of my own palm. I pressed my bare soles to the soil. Dug my fingers into the clay. I've come come back to you, I whispered through the birches. Come back to me.