………….After Agha Shahid Ali, “I’m moving out holding tombstones in my hand.”
When the agent gives the new owners the keys,
the Past looks at me ─ a stranger, suddenly,
the Present smiles at them across the lawyer’s polished desk,
young, solid with Future.
Already I see the Japanese yews, two armfuls in diameter,
group together, reluctant to be cut down,
and the crab apple tree leveled to lawn.
Already memory’s fists bang against my heart,
a mutiny from captivity,
already I know the fireplace will smoke out family secrets.
In the foyer, they will not see the spot where life was born,
how I held the banister to steady myself,
the day motherhood began.
I hold the check, fine grained paper and numbers,
I’m leaving here washing the salt off my tongue,
memory’s sleep from my eyes,
leaving with the honeyed voice of ghosts whooshing in my ears.
© Lalita Noronha
Lalita Noronha is a widely published scientist, poet, writer, editor of the Baltimore Review, and a CityLit Board Member. She is the author of Where Monsoons Cry (fiction, Black Words Press), Her Skin Phyllo-thin (Finishing Line Press) and The Mustard Seed: A Collage of Science, Art and Love Poems (Apprentice House Press). She has received Maryland Individual Artist Awards in both fiction and poetry, and nominated for Pushcart Prizes in those genres.