Returning Home in Winter

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This poem originally appeared in MQR 45:1, dedicated to “The Documentary Imagination,” guest edited by Tom Fricke and Keith Taylor The full issue is available in our archive

At my desk, a stack of papers face down
means worries of deadlines, promotions,

net worth. How soon these papers become
paupers, begging for the desk lamp

to switch on, or the computer to begin
its staggering. But I’ve long forgotten them.

Here, the fog horns seem to multiply,
clocks and bells grieve louder.

Strange how I never noticed them before.
Lunch matters suddenly—a strand of

eggs or tuna fish? Still, we could go out,
Greek or Japanese—watch men twist fish

and build a scaffold of rice. In this world,
I suddenly have use for my mother again.

There is the scent of her hair. And the sound
of her pink curlers snapping into place.

There is her elusive approval again, and the
smell of frying carp that capes everything.