Welcome home (poem)

Here’s an indulgent little thing that I wrote in the first week that I got back to Australia. At the time, I wasn’t in the headspace for narrative or fiction and I just had a lot of feelings that I needed to get out. I never was very good at poetry so please keep that in mind if you keep going

Eight hundred and ninety-one days
since I breathed Australian air
and I didn’t realise my craving
until I stepped off the plane,
into my mum’s arms,
and wept.

Eight hundred and ninety-one days
since I smelled dogs, and coffee, and cigarette smoke, and insect repellent
all in one home.
Hidden in a cul-de-sac
with cockatoos shrieking and the song of the breeze through passionfruit vines

Eight hundred and ninety-one days.
I watched Nana’s funeral on Zoom.
I had to dig my fingernails into my palms until blood oozed down my wrists
because my dad was crying
and I couldn’t touch him.

Eight hundred and ninety-one days
measured in online lectures I moved to a new continent to teach;
measured in aimless walks through clean, polluted streets;
measured in burning heartbeats, in acid bile,
and surging, violent, ferocious rage,
and helpless tears.

Eight hundred and ninety-one days.
I watched my hometown flood.
I watched the hockey fields and the mall I grew up in,
the first nightclub I danced in,
and my favourite café
utterly unable to do anything
but watch.

I watched my brother get sick
and whine into a camera phone.
At Christmas, Mum asked why I’d looked so annoyed on the group call.
I wasn’t annoyed.
I was trying not to cry.

Eight hundred and ninety-one days
since I smelled my mum’s shampoo,
and watched
from across the kitchen island
while Dad made milkshakes.
Since my brother’s dog scratched my thigh
to draw my attention back to her,
her bottom canines like tusks and her lips in a wide, coaxing smile
as she solemnly asked for scritches.

I watch my mum and dad with their iPads out in front of them.
Parallel play; enjoying themselves in company and alone.
Dad with his blogs and Mum with her crime shows.

I watch. And I watch. And I breathe.
Eight hundred and ninety-one days,
and I am home.

PS – I love writing and I love eating! If you want to help with the latter (and ONLY if you want) you can maybe buy me a coffee? 


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