Seven years I let myself formulate excuses
not to return
and on the eighth
guilt had made her way into my closed heart
laying a light ribbon on the frayed part
going back was like being reborn
as yourself and not yourself at all
I walked familiar streets, spoke similar words
accent hardly altered
as if no time had passed
and so they said
you look exactly the same
though they were changed and I were changed
all altered irrevocably with time worn stain
as if glass no longer could be relied upon
to give accurately our real prescription
even friends were foreign handed
or I no longer of that land
left behind when things were too sad
I sealed the bottle and set adrift
seven years of absence builds
many barnacles to anyone’s vision
when the damned see the truth
the liars remove their seaweed masks
curtsy finely and pronounce
we did our part
exit stage left
standing on warm boards of the theater of pretend
where dance and energy has dissipated
into cloven wings
hear me now
shadows of my past
the girl with the big smile
her perfect fine figured mouth
and matching dragon tooth skirt
as if we dressed together in the darkness
of one another
except she is a mother and
I have a cut-out womb ebbing in formaldyade
don’t worry I feel no pain now
some of us are bearly hanging on
what good would a child of weakness
bring the sorrow further inland?
I miss her
like I write letters in wax to myself
those over easy days we knew who we were
or felt … some approximation of reality
good enough for then
when she looked at me
unequal teeth smiling and needing
how did the splinter drive that deeply?
wedge like sword between this time and before?
we know nothing of the other
as a blue bottle
cast on green and yellow water
will wait
seven years
to reach shore
when I climbed out and dusted myself off
she was gone
her footprints erased from the sand
nobody recognized me
only the echoes of an angry sea
calling me back to exile
you do not belong here 
and the white cliffs looked relieved
when I flew overhead
my heart aching with loss
the cheer of relief
like a season
changing from golden red to