GROWING AWAY

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“We grow old, and we go away.” – From a Note to Author Elmer A. Ordonez

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It is the room we dread to open
when we go back home because
we have to. “You can bunk in here,
nothing has changed, you sleep
well in familiar places, don’t you?”

Except that this room is too full
of everything I might have been
running away from: “you will be
back for the summer holidays,
won’t you? Mom would like that.”

I did not catch the train back,
nor did I try that summer when
father said he was ill: “come home
as quickly as classes end, your
father would like that. Come home.”

It has been some time since I last
dusted off the cobwebs and dirt
from the sill and the pictures
in this room. I stare at them longer
now praying they would talk back:

“You’ve come home at last. Stay,
stay longer, we would like that.
There’s catfish to hook at the river
a stone’s throw from home. There’s
black berries to gather for wine.”

They stare back at my wan face
from the confines of the ornate frame
and the bursting memories in sepia:
Father in white gabardine suit,
Mother in her white traje de boda.

I have come home, but I cannot stay.
This room is now full. And empty.

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