Notes to self — on coming home: A poem



does not come when you leave.


Not when your friends

wave to you one last time,

sending you off

in that six-passenger cab.


Not when you get through security alone,

not when you board,

not when you sit on your

nine-hour flight

and wonder where the tears you’d braced for

have gone.

You find you can’t cry.

It’s almost worse

to not have the option.

So you spend your flight in and out

of sleep,

half in Dublin,

half already home,

and when you land, it feels like

you haven’t moved at all,

like you could get off the plane

and go back, have

just a little more time



Of course, you can’t.

You come home, and it is home

as it’s always been.

The faucets have changed,

your bags go elsewhere now,

but you return like you’d never left.


It feels wrong how easily

you can shed an entire country,

like so much rain shrugged off your shoulders —

the fine Dublin rain you quietly miss

at the back of your mind,

in the face of California sun.



does not come when you return.


Because when you’re home, you have

plans to settle:

that summer job you promised to get,

the driving test you might

finally take.

In fact, it’s almost three weeks

before you give closure

another thought.


There’s a card on your table

from a professor abroad.

You can’t bear to open it just yet.

Once you do

there will be nothing left

of those hundred and six days

you have not lived already.


You think you need to be sadder

before you can use up those words.


You sit and wait

for the tears,

for the missing.

Shock and acclimation

hold it all back.

You’ve gotten so good at


you can’t let yourself miss

what you left behind.


You sit, you wait,

for what, you don’t know.

For that elusive feeling of

readiness, the moment you can

finally make something significant

out of everything.

The feeling never comes.


And the card sits,

and the card waits.


And when you reach out for that card

readiness be damned

closure comes all of a



It is the feeling of nothing much at all,

the feeling of coming to rest.

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