“On Being Home” by Isaiah R. Hicks

And you wish it were easier to write
About how you’ve been feeling lately,
The thought of being back home
For the first time in a while placating,
Quite pitifully,
The time you spend alone in your head.
There is no glory in finding fault in everything,
Yet the two clocks that tick, tick, tock, tock
Oh so nearly in unison make it difficult
To focus on anything more important.
But you try anyway.
You still think it is nice to get away, to come
Back to these humble beginnings you call
Home, the way the deck is unfinished,
New wood lining the memory of what
It looked like growing up, or the way
Your dog grows ever older, his lack
Of energy becoming a sign that he will
Soon, sadly, be better off elsewhere

Tomorrow is your father’s birthday.
He will be 58, and you will still worry that,
Each passing year, you fall faster and farther
Away from showing him, simply,
How great of a father he has been to you.
It is not Death that scares you, but Time;
You are prey to both. Time, though, is what
Drives the eventual end of life. Your father
Would make a joke about living forever
If you read this poem to him. He always does
That when you try to talk with him seriously
About his hypertension, or whether or not
He is taking his medication. You like to think
That he does this because Time robs us
Of the ability to sit in place and worry forever.
You do not know what scares him.
You are convinced that nothing does,
But when he told your mother, if the cancer
Returned, that he would not undergo
Any kind of treatment, you could not resolve
Whether you would be angry with him
For refusing help or understanding because,
In his position, you would do the same.

You focus in on the tick, tick again
But cannot hear the other half of what makes
A clock complete. You wait for a text message
From your ex that will never be sent because
It is difficult for you to understand that, simply,
She is doing better without you.
You watch a fan blade spin so you can
Distract yourself from writing more of the truth.
You have thought about her a lot over
Winter break. Well, her and why it is so
Hard to see when something good is sitting
Directly in front of you, whether it be
Time with family, time alone, or time
With someone else. There is someone who admires
You that you ignore. You do not know why.
For someone so scared of Time, you seem to enjoy
Making people wait. Taking a deep breath
Centers yourself so you can avoid self-deprecation.
The wait for everything to make sense
Is enough to make you lick your wounds
And trod home until the storm is almost over.

This poem has spilled into the next day
Like moonlight. You rub your eyes.
You want to say something profound,
But instead, all you can think about is how
Alone you feel sometimes. How much it
Never makes sense. Being home reminds
You of the many mornings the eyelids
On your cold-battered face would beg
For more sleep as you waited for the bus.
You were tired then. You are tired now.
The opportunity for sleep presents itself,
Yet you refuse because you think you have
Much more to wonder. Like what it means
To be an old man who has lost dexterity
In his fingers and cannot even tie his own
Shoes anymore. Or what it means
To be in a couple like the one you
Saw picnicking in Monroe Park
For their first date on a warm, autumn
Afternoon. Look at someone else’s life
Long enough and you start making up
Similarities. You think back to when
You, sitting on a park bench, watched
The leaves drift after seeing the couple
And wondered if things between you
And anyone could have been different.

The way your dog used to jump on you
When he saw you. The way your bedroom
Is cluttered with cardboard boxes
And the miscellaneous. A light chill
Shooting up your spine. You sigh.
Soon, you will finish this poem,
Ready to revise it sometime tomorrow
But apprehensive to share it with anyone.
It stares into your head for a little too long.
You wish to one day be simpler.
You are anxious, and trees do not grow
Their gentle buds fast enough for you.
Time tires you, slowing your writing,
Words trickling onto this page
Like the leaky faucet in your bathroom
That drips only when you are home.

Isaiah is an aspiring poet living in Richmond, VA, who is currently studying Biology at Virginia Commonwealth University. More of his work can be found on Medium.

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