Walkin on Air

The Homecoming

THE HOMECOMING
05.10.1990

WHILE PEAKING AT EACH OTHER
FULL BLOSSOMED FLOWERS BLUSH;
AS LAZY SUNRAYS LAUGH,
TO BIRDNESTS SAUNTER,
LITTLE CHILDREN TO THEIR LOVING MOTHERS RUSH;
A SILENT SNAIL ITS HOUSE ON BACK WILL WANDER…

LIKE FALLING PEARLS OF DEW
SWEAT DROPS OFF A NOSE
IN PROTEST PROTRUDING FROM A DOWNTURNED FACE
OF A PLOUGHING PEASANT WHOSE TATTERED OLD CLOTHES
LEND HIS TOOUGH WORKING BODY A TOUCH OF GRACE.

HIS FURROWS ARE RULER STRAIGHT
AS IS HIS PATH IN LIFE:
CURVES ON ROLLING HILLS AND FORRESTS ROUND HIS FIELD
MELLOWING HIS OBSESSIONS JUST LIKE HIS WIFE
WHOSE ABSTRACT VIRTUE IS HIS PRIDE, STRENGTH AND SHIELD.

TRIALS HAVE GOUGED IN HIS FACE
DEEP VALLEYS OF WRINKLES:
ACQUAINTED WITH GRIEF, MILD WITH SEASONED HUMOR,
IT LOOKS LIKE A RELIEFMAP FULL OF CRINKLES;
SAD BLUE EYES DISPEL WEAKNESS AS MERE RUMOR.

GOLDEN JUBILEE HE'S HAD
MARRIED TO SARA-LEE,
THE FIRS DAY HE SAW HER HE REMEMBERS WELL:
SAPPY TEENS THEY WERE; AT A BIRTHDAY PARTY
PLAYING HIDE 'N SEEK WAS WHEN SHE CAST HER SPELL…

IT WAS LATE WHEN SHE GAVE BIRTH.
THEY HAVE JUST THAT ONE SON
WHO AT AGE SEVENTEEN LEFT TO FIND HIS WAY;
IT SEEMS LIKE GOOD ENDS RIGHT AS IT HAS BEGUN,
WITHOUT SARAH ALL HIS VALUES WOULD DECAY.

SHE SHUFFLES TOWARDS HIM NOW,
HER FRAIL FRAME WEIGHTED DOWN:
MULTITUDES OF DEVILS HAVE PLAGUED HER FOR YEARS
WITH THOUGHTS OF TOMORROW THAT THREATEN TO DROWN
HER HEART'S ONLY HOPE IN TORRENTS OF TEARS.

BUT THERE IS NO CHANCE SUCH A THING
CAN HAPPEN ANYMORE:
HER EYES AND SOUL ARE VOID, SHE'S QUITE CRIED DRY;
YOUTH'S IDEALS, DREAMCONSTELLATIONS SHE ONCE BORE
ARE GONE, SHATTERED ON SHOALS OF FATE FLOWED AWRY…

IN SPITE OF TOIL AND SORROW
THE TWO STILL PLOD ALONG
THE ROAD OF NO RETURN, THEIR LAST HOPE REMAINS:
FINALLY TODAY MAY BE RIGHTED A WRONG
SUFFERED LONG AGO ON SOME DISTANT LAND'S PLAINS.

LONG AGO? IT SEEMS NOT SO,
MEMORY TIME DEFIES.
MANY THINGS HAVE CHANGED SINCE THEN, DUST GATHERS DEEP,
MANKIND'S LUST FOR EVIL HOLDS NO MORE SURPRISE;
PERHAPS LIFE TO COME WILL PROVIDE PEACEFUL SLEEP?

"HECTOR," SHE CALLED, "IT'S NEAR TIME,
THE TRAIN WILL SOON ARRIVE!"
WITHOUT LOOKING UP HE DISENGAGED THE HORSE,
HELD ITS HARNESS IN GNARLED HANDS: TO TOWN THEY'D DRIVE
IN THE HAYWAGON TO MEET THE VISITORS.

"IT'S GOOD OF THEM TO BRING HIM;
AYE, WE MUSTN'T BE LATE."
HECTOR'S WIDE MOUTH REVEALED TOBACCOSTAINED TEETH
WHILE HE MEEKLY SPOKE OF THE UPCOMING DATE.
"THEY HAVE HAD A LONG JOURNEY FROM THAT FAR HEATH."

WITH A SOFT SMILE SARAH TURNED
HER ANCIENT WHITEHAIRED HEAD.
"IT WON'T BE LONG NOW WE SHALL HAVE HIM BACK HOME;
ONCE HE'S WHERE HE BELONGS, ALL IS WELL," SHE SAID.
NEARBY GULLS PEARCHED ON ROCKS MIDST OCEANFOAM…

AT LAST THEY WERE ON THEIR WAY.
CLOSE THEY SAT SIDE BY SIDE,
A BUMBLEBEE SPED BY LIKE A BULLETSHOT,
FROM THE LEATHERWORKS CAME SMELLS OF FRESHLY TANNED HIDE;
BY NOW THE DAY WAS ALREADY GETTING HOT.

ALONG THEY DROVE IN SILENCE,
A STRONG MUTUAL BOND.
LONG DAYS HAD THEY SPENT CARTING HAY, HECTOR THOUGHT:
JUST THE THREE OF THEM THEN, THE BOY IN BACK WAS WONT
TO LOAF ON THE HAYLOAD AND DREAM WHAT HE SOUGHT.

AS THEY RETURNED FROM MEADOWS
AFTER FULL DYS OF WORK
HIS MIND RECALLED, HE ONCE FROM THE BOY HAD HEARD,
"HEY PA! THIS IS FUN THE WAY WE BUMP AND JERK;
I ALMOST FEEL AS WE'RE GOING BACKWARD…"

WELL, DIFFERENT THINGS WOULD BE NOW,
ALL HAD THEY GROWN OLDER.
EXCEPT FOR HABITS NOTHING REMAINS THE SAME:
SPRING BECOMES SUMMER AND AUTUMN GETS COLDER,
YOUTHFUL FOLLY HUNGERS FOR GLORY AND FAME…

UPON REACHING THE STATION
THEY COULD HEAR BRASSBANDS PLAY.
STREAMERS AND FLAGS WAVED AMONG THRONGING PEOPLE
MILLING ABOUT THE PLATFORM YELLING, "HOORAY!"
AS THE TRAIN DREW NEAR BELLS RANG FROM A STEEPLE.

IN HIGHHAT THE MAYOR STOOD,
HIS LONGCOAT TOUCHED THE GROUND:
TRIMMED WHISKERS, RED SIDEBURNS, OVAL FACE,
BIG EARS ENCROACHED HIS PURPLE NOSE SET HIGH AS A MOUND
OVER HIS MOUTH, WHICH HOLDS SPEECHES NO ONE HEARS.

THE BISHOP HIMSELF WAS THERE
IN GOLDEN VESTURES BRIGHT,
CHERUBIC CHOIRBOYS' IMPISH SMILES BELIED
THEIR OUTWARD HOLINESS: AN IMPRESSIVE SIGHT
AS WITH CHIEF CITIZENS THEY HOMESPUN DERIDE.

THE TRAINWHISTLE'S LOUD SHRILL TOOT
CUT SHARPLY THROUGH THE CROWD.
BUILDINGS AND PLATFORMS SHOOK, THE ENGINE PULLED IN;
COLORED WAGONS WITH OPEN WINDOWS ALLOWED
RETURNING SOLDIERS TO GAILY WAVE AND GRIN.

MOTHERS, FATHERS, SONS, DAUGHTERS
ALL RAN FORWARD TO GREET
THEIR LOVED ONES AS THEY PILED OUT OFF THE COACHES.
"WHO ARE YOU," ASKED A WOMAN, "HERE FOR TO MEET?
OH, LOOK! THIS IS MY SON WHO NOW APPROACHES…"

"MAMMA!" A VOICE BLEATED OUT
'MONGST KEEN HUGS AND KISSES;
SOMEONE STOPPED BY THEM AND TO SARAH EXCLAIMED,
"NOTHING'S LIKE SEEING AGAIN THOSE ONE MISSES!"
IN A PASSING FLASH SARAH'S HEARTPASSION FLAMED…

VOICES DIED DOWN, PEOPLE LEFT,
THE BRASSBANDS MARCHED AWAY…
TWO YOUNG MEN SLOWLY WALKED TO THE HAYWAGON.
"ARE YOU SARAH AND HECTOR? WE CAN'T LONG STAY,
PLEASE COME WITH US BEFORE THE TRAIN MUST MOVE ON."

THE BAGGAGECOACH WAS IN REAR
WHERE A CONDUCTOR STOOD.
IMPATIENTLY HE SAID, "IT'S NOT OFTEN
WE DELAY THIS LONG, BUT YOUR REASON IS GOOD.
HERE! YOUR SON HAS COME HOME: THERE IS HIS COFFIN…"

LATER AT THE GRAVEYARDSITE
KNEELING AMONG TOMBSTONES
TWO LONE SOULS PUT A SON TO REST, DID NOT CRY.
FAR AWAY BANDS PLAYED 'SEVENTY-TWO TROMBONES',
CLOUDS LIKE CUTE FROLICKING LAMBS ROMPED IN BLUE SKY…


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The Homecoming

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