Return Visit, 1998

When I first stepped into this house

after an absence of many years,

I felt strange. It was a little hard

to breathe; my throat and chest were tight,

and my head throbbed. I soon diagnosed

claustrophobia — the walls seemed closer

than I remembered, the ceiling lower.

The house was unlikely to have shrunk.

It had been some time, after all, and I

had grown. I squeezed my way through

doors, peered into dusty rooms, where

long-neglected toys lay scattered. I hadn’t

put them away carefully when I left, but you

hadn’t moved them. I was touched. Still,

the house was, clearly, too small. I was sorry,

but I couldn’t stay. I took one last look

around, up and down, through the once-beloved

paths…and then turned to the door,

twisted the knob. Only, I had made a mistake —

opened the back door, rather than the front.

Tell me; did you plant this garden, this wild,

riotous maze, while I was gone, without a single mention?

Or did I just miss it the first time through?

Would it be okay, if I stayed a while?


M.A. Mohanraj

September 7, 1998