Flying Home


High over the Pacific we race toward dawn,

while memory flies westward with the sunset,

following dusk into last night’s smoky city,

into another evening warm with clouds,

silhouettes that move against the windows of those dim-lit dwellings,

twilight, and the light failing and the dark

flooding through fields and courtyards,

and the smell of cooking rice spilling into the streets.

Sleep comes slowly

and dreams gather at the foot of those receding hills.

Mind-tricks, mirages, long forgotten music,

heat-lightning over a mind that shimmers with images:

first light splashing in dooryards and sun-washed streets

and the soft, shifting eyes of children: memories

collapsing now like a handful of dust into formless reveries.

The spirit strains to set aside anamnesis; to step over this void in time.

It is a contradiction lived in another year, on another continent,

a strange valley peopled with the soul’s unsharable memories.

Ahead of us the edge of the land lifts a brilliant city out of the ocean:

a luminous cache of costume jewelry piercing the night and shining

from the near clouds and from our faces suspended in air above water.

With the coming of dawn we shall feel again familiar soil

and walk again where our intimate ghosts lead us:

our own land, touched, perhaps, with mists that hide uncertain eyes,

but after the mists and after the eyes, at last, home.

But it is not so. Beyond the shelter of this fading darkness

none of us shall ever again be wholly free.


December 26, 1995