It’s easy to find.
One left turn. One right
Past the school.
Past the stop sign.
5th on the right.
Right where we left it.
Except for the candy red center.
That’s been sanded, bleached.
Painted a more welcoming black.
The clock has turned;
The deadbolt bars return.
But press your face against the glass
Perhaps you can catch a reflection
Of the ghosts that inhabit familiar walls,
Refuse to be packed neatly alongside bubble-wrapped plates.
Chocolate chip cookies with only one egg,
Floppy puppy ears dripping in the water bowl,
Sleeping bags covered in morning dew.
Little feet balanced on daddy’s shoes,
Gloved hands tracking in snow,
Sisters giggling well past dark.
Nothing perfect afternoons.
21 years of noise, noise, noise
And now the silence thunders.
The trees out front are still the first to turn,
Leaves falling across the grass, piling up at the steps,
Waiting for the crunch of feet returning home.
In the backyard 1, 2, 3, 4 stones
Mark 1, 2, 3, 4 hamster funerals,
Remembered by the sloping ground and the watching oak.
And headlights still illuminate the front bedroom at night,
Shadows expanding and sliding across the ceiling.
But without the eyes that watched their march across the stars.
My parents first went to visit Abilene this time last year.