The Old Country

Vona Groarke


I came out of that country
with one suitcase
crammed with newspaper,
seeds in every fold.

No. That’s not it.

No seeds and no newspaper.
My suitcase was full of snow
and the shadow of snow

which is another way of saying
it was full of lies.

I had been there for years,
whole months of them.

And then, just like that,
words stopped calling on me,
street signs flipped inside out.

My neighbors swopped faces.
The blue door was, by nightfall,
paler blue. On clean days, hail
pockmarked the pillows.

I try not to picture it.

Or to calculate heartbeats, blood I bled,
rooms undressed, ways of waking up,
ounces in an ounce of love.

I am scattering ink-white ashes as I write.

Sometimes I think you live a day
and it passes through you
like a ghost on a landing

and sometimes I think
there is no landing
and the ghost cannot be me.

image: Vincent van Gogh, Street in Auvers-sur-Oise, 1890