NONFICTION: KATIE GOETZ – HOMECOMING

Homecoming

The place you come from
will call you home someday
when it really needs you.
Like it or not — understand it or not —
you’d do well to listen.

I couldn’t have known then
what was really drawing me back,
but time is a teacher:
It was to know my brother,
fully formed,
in the crucible that forged us.

***

Too few years later,
three sets of headlights pointed the way
as we caravanned through the desert
to carry his things home
without him.

My dad led the way in the pickup and trailer.
My older sister drove my mom
in my brother’s car.
I brought up the rear and let go the gearshift
to clutch my little sister’s knee
as she sobbed in the scoop of my passenger seat.

A moment or an eternity later,
I found myself in the cradle of the universe —
no need for clock or compass.
To be held so mercifully —
to feel as one with all that ink —
this is God, I remember thinking.

***

It seemed brighter in the driveway
than the moon had a right to be that night.
We crawled out broken as a car crash,
knees wobbly as a newborn calf.

My mom, my dad, my sisters, and me —
now the answer to “Where is everyone?” —
we just couldn’t believe it,
even with a box trailer full of proof.

There in the gravel, we stumbled
toward an uncertain center.
Winter’s night could have been summer’s day:
membranes melted
until we stood
a single pool of sorrow in the desert.

Had we stood that moment
anywhere but in the place that made him —
the place where he made himself,
the place where we made each other —
we would have failed him.
We would have failed our own nascence.

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