Leaving Home

Sept. 14, something trailing us from New York, smoke, odor of burnt
flesh, noise of jet engines seen in billows of flames, heard in the dark
retina of memory, something behind us like crowded parking lots
in train stations, no drivers returning to drive back home, a bitter
taste like the urine of someone else’s God, people nodding at our

NY license plates where we stop for gas, Maryland, Virginia,
the Carolinas, as if we’d driven from the front, our cats and
belongings piled into an old ambulance, no sly glance at northerners
or hoot and guffaw at snow birds. Respect and sadness. Heads
shaking back and forth, Who can believe it? We have come here empty-

handed, without flowers or the veil of grief, our little house back
home being renovated, gutted, slabs of granite hoisted onto cabinets,
ceilings torn away, smoke detectors with eerie green lights throbbing
in freshly cut halls. All that stainless steel gathering heat and chill,
black gratings that mask the touch of hunger, their gleam of

darkness congealed; the floors, the beautiful hardwood floors
elongating the grain of oak and cherry, where we’ll walk in bare
feet in the first land’s bounty, never thinking to feel so fortunate
as we feel here along the lagoon, renting relief from icy paths,
startled by a golden eagle landing in the backyard, his talons

curved on nothing, until he rises briefly to the railing of the deck,
eyeing the small movements that enticed him out of his glide
over the marshland. Now he lunges and rises again, something
in his grip, hanging helplessly, not dead, not alive, the gray color
of a northern sky, sides heaving, carried toward the highest pine.

John Allman | Mudlark No. 31
Contents | Reflections