I walked the winding path today
around the apartment buildings
right through my childhood.
Everything smelled the same.
The big white lilies gave off a fragrance of early evening,
the sunset was in its incipient stages.
The heat bearable, like me.
Summer petering out.
I leapt from one slab of stone to the next, imagined where the bench used to be,
and the staircase where all the teenagers laughed and wrote funny signs on the wall,
and me, just a child, in my cream polo T-shirt with red ladybugs and two buttons.
I came around the walls, touching, scraping.
Nothing but old people now on the other side of those walls, sequestered by them.
I still breathed through widened nostrils, I alone could still leap.
Where the bench once stood, just arid space.
(Where I once insulted another girl’s doll and was ostracized an entire summer.)
Even the buildings look old, and that is comforting.
It is comforting to know some things never change,
that you can count on them never to change,
that your memories still have places to inhabit.
It is comforting to unearth roots,
anchoring where it used to be.
My soul is comforted by old immovable things now.
There is a weak storm brewing.
I don’t feel threatened. It too has no strength anymore.
It tousles the treetops, the night sky a pinkish fog,
raindrops dry out before they hit the cement.
It is merely a swoosh.
A coming and going like the ocean tides.
Doves cooing on warm roof tiles, small sparrows under bushes.
It is farewell.