MIDWEEK POETRY: You can’t go home.

You can’t go home.

I wandered by my home,

the place where I was born.

The garden – swathed in concrete,

my playing field gone forever.

No more would I lay in the long grass,

picking daisies and buttercups

then putting them under my chin.

I would squeal with delight when my sister

would say, Your chin is yellow.

~~~

Nor would I dig into the rich dark soil

and clamber into my trench.

Wooden rifle pointing at the enemy.

My hedgehog’s gone from his grave by the fence,

and I’ll never be able to dig up my dead Uncle’s watch.

The house held secrets the new people didn’t know,

I felt its heart slowly beating and knew it remembered me.

It didn’t want me there, perhaps I reminded it of the pain.

~~~

I looked at the front gate and felt the fear of jumping off the gatepost.

My parachute didn’t open and I smuggled the sheet back into the house.

The street held nothing but wraithes of memories

and familiar houses were Inhabited by strangers.

~~~

I walked the pathways of my childhood,

a lumbering old man in search of answers,

hope, love, who knows.

Whatever it was I didn’t find it,

It had been overlaid with the phantoms of others who had come this way.

Everything seemed smaller, closed in.

The houses hugged the street.

The vacant lot where we burnt the Guy had been built on,

the scars, from bombs of a war long gone had finally been erased.

~~~

The chip shop stood at the end of the street like a beacon

but when I peered through the window It lost its appeal.

It didn’t look the same, perhaps I had changed.

Besides, the window wasn’t misted over.

Nor was it a winter’s night and my sister wasn’t there.

I can still see her face in the glow from the window,

cheeks red, eyes glistening with delight

as she ripped open the newspaper wrapped package.

Steam poured out, bringing with it the aroma of cooking oil,

chips and burnt scraps of fish.

Oh, the delight of picking at the chips with cold fingers,

sticking the hot, salty treasures into your mouth.

I’ve never recaptured the exact taste,

I never saw her so happy again.

I wandered away from the memories,

her ghost followed me,

for a while,

then faded back into the landscape of my past.

Laurie Smith© 2013

laurienoreeneng

My sister Noreen and I in the backyard of our home in England, about 1955. I returned in the summer of 2002 after an absence of 41 years and wandered the streets and parks. I stood looking at my home for a long time. No answers came forward, only a mixture of happiness and horror. I went to the front door and spoke with the woman who lived there now. Deep feelings swirled inside me and I thanked her and hurried away. That house didn’t want me there at all.

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48 thoughts on “MIDWEEK POETRY: You can’t go home.

  1. Pingback: Part of the WordPress Family Award! | Nia Simone, Author

  2. mimerajver

    Laurie, thank you for a sensitive, wonderful poem reminding us that nothing is what it was, because we are different also. They say memories are a construct that we keep altering every time we bring them to mind. Be it as it may, what we felt in the past stays with us, and is as authentic as our philosophy. Sometimes melancholy is necessary to remind us of our transience. Get better soon!
    Hugs,
    Marta

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    1. laurie27wsmith Post author

      Hi Marta, thank you. The past is a place we can visit often, I like to go with an open mind and learn from the journey. It is easy to get stuck there at times. I think some memories from events, especially if they are horror filled remain there like a painting with every dab and stroke intact. You are quite right, melancholy is part of it and it certainly highlights how good we have it right now. I’m feeling better than I was, besides the emphysema and asthma I had influenza lurking there. Phew.
      Big hugs back at you Marta.
      Laurie.

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  3. bgbowers

    I’m sorry to hear about your health, Laurie, and you are in my thoughts. I look forward to reading your ghostly series. I have had a lot of experiences in the past, but all has been quiet for a few years. Like I said, the new house is a different story. The first week here, my 3 year old son woke me up at 2am and asked what the man was doing in my room. Of course, I couldn’t see anyone, but I didn’t want to scare him so I asked him what the man was doing. He said that the man was fixing things in the house and that he wasn’t scary. I used to be able to ‘see’ when I was younger, but it has been reduced to feeling. Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading your story.
    Take care of yourself x

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    1. laurie27wsmith Post author

      The sea air is doing me good at the moment thanks Bianca. Yes I’m running things through my mind as we speak, I may lose a few followers with or maybe not. it was a confronting time, especially with people’s belief systems. Can’t boil eggs that haven’t been laid yet, so it will be worth the wait. 🙂

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    2. laurie27wsmith Post author

      Sorry I cut it short there. Young children usually see these things, it’s when we get older that peer pressure and ridicule get in the way. I also think in a way that for a while it’s a good thing. Otherwise it can get in the way of a developing child. If it’s meant to come back it will. Most hauntings are usually by previous owners who can’t let go. 🙂

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  4. bgbowers

    I’m sorry that you lost your sister to suicide, Laurie. My husband lost his sister to suicide too. It leaves a gaping hole. Especially as life moves, you grow older, and you think about how different their lives could have been if they held on a little longer.
    I attempted suicide 15 years ago. It was my biggest failure and greatest success. I don’t talk about it, because people have such strong preconceptions about suicide. They are judgemental. I have judged myself enough. I probably should write about it. I am probably obligated to do so.

    It would be strange and disconcerting to revisit those locations of the past. The way you describe it is exactly how I would imagine it. Eloquently written indeed.

    Ghosts of the past. I’m looking forward to reading about those. I think we have a ghost in our new house. He is not malicious, just making his presence felt.

    Gigi commented on your being unwell. I hope that it’s nothing serious.

    I loved these lines:
    “My hedgehog’s gone from his grave by the fence…
    The house held secrets the new people didn’t know,
    I felt its heart slowly beating and knew it remembered me.
    It didn’t want me there, perhaps I reminded it of the pain.”

    Bianca x

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    1. laurie27wsmith Post author

      Thanks Bianca, you can understand a natural ending, although I can’t cast the first stone here. I’ve been there twice and it will be the subject of a future post. I know how much pain one has to be in to do it. Yes people make judgements and it’s not fair. You have to walk a mile as they say before you can comment. It would probably benefit you and others to write about your experience Bianca.
      I wanted to be an archaeologist as a small boy, having a need to know about everything that had gone before. As an adult I have this need to put my past in order, to know reasons why. Then when I know I’ll probably keel over dead. 🙂 I’ll be writing about the other ghosts when I finish my army blog.
      One in your house eh? He thinks you’re the ones haunting his house. If you have a voice recorder, cassette, phone or whatever put it on when you go to bed. Leave it in the most disturbed room and check it the following morning.
      I developed asthma last year, now I have emphysema plus an infection in the lungs. It’s a waiting game. Thanks for highlighting those lines, it looks different on when someone writes them back at you.
      Cheers
      Laurie.

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    1. laurie27wsmith Post author

      Thanks Theresa, it’s funny how these little poems/rose work. I had a hint of what I wanted to say a few weeks ago, wrote it down and promptly forgot it. Then when Tuesday came it was a case of arghh, what have I got for Wednesday? of course when I started editing it made me cry.
      Laurie.

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      1. Theresa

        Laurie – I have re-read this post again twice, because your raw feelings in it, and your responses to your followers, have stayed with me all day. I wish I could help, but sometimes, you just have to sit in whatever you are facing before moving forward again. That’s what life is – stops and starts and stops, all repeated, some unbearable, but still we walk on. As for your sister’s suicide – I am so very sorry. As a therapist, I work with people who are suicidal far too frequently, as well as the survivors of suicide (family members left behind). There is never any closure, but as you know, you do survive. But there will never be a happy ending, nor will there ever be a good enough reason for us to fathom. The ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’ can paralyze us, along with the feeling that perhaps we weren’t enough. I do know that at that moment, the person contemplating ending their life is in such emotional pain that they see no way out, and cannot think clearly enough to know that such pain is temporary – it will always get better. My heart goes out to you, and I walk beside you for support on this part of your journey. As a professional, I know this all too well – see: http://soulgatherings.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/i-wasnt-enough/, but only when you are ready. Blessings…

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      2. laurie27wsmith Post author

        Thank you Theresa for your care and concern. I read your post and left a comment. There’s no rhyme or reason to it all, acceptance is difficult at first yet it is the only way to survive. You never forget or truly understand, so you can only follow the road of acceptance.
        Laurie.

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  5. Eli@coachdaddy

    Laurie, I’m proud of you for having gone in search of it, whatever it was. That you didn’t find it, particularly, might have been the answer you sought. We regret things not done, not things we do – that you didn’t find it, and how you felt out of place, might have been the answer, maybe not what you were looking for, but the answer.

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  6. hitandrun1964

    I’m very sorry to hear that you are still sick. I hope the test results will give the doctor the information s/he needs to make you well quickly. I think ghosts and shadows are everywhere, on a different etheric level but sometimes they break through and stick around. I’m sorry your sister decided to leave. I’m sure she had her reasons. Sometimes life gets to be too much and a person doesn’t see any alternative. She wouldn’t want you to be sad because from what you have said, she seems to have loved you very much. She’s free and no longer here having to deal with whatever was making her unhappy. I’m positive she is happy now. And the past is over. We can never change it. If we think about it too much we use up the time we have now, and giving it to something that no longer exists, except in a memory. We need to make new memories and let go of the old disturbing ones, if we can. Difficult sometimes, but better than letting them keep us in their clutches. Can’t give away the life we have for the life that was or might have been. At least that’s my theory. Things never make sense, no matter how long you think about them. I hope your visit helped you in some way. I don’t think people can repair the hole a death leaves in their heart/life. You just have to accept the fact that part of you is gone and live anyway. At least that’s what I do. Be well my friend and the chickens and I send our chirps and good wishes.

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    1. laurie27wsmith Post author

      Me too Gigi. Oh yes we are surrounded by these things the ether is a tad crowded. I know exactly what her reasons were but I won’t air them here. Don’t misunderstand me here, I don’t beat myself over this I just get sad. I visit the past now and see myself as something of a journalist of the ether. A rich repository of stories are lurking there and they are waiting to be written. When I start my psychic series I will tell the story of her visitation the following week. The thing about memories Gigi is they never go away. They are always there it is how we access them and our reaction to looking at them again. When it comes to memories my best and worse with her are all up to my 16th year. (except for her death) So when you go back to a memory you tend to feel like you did at whatever age. I cherish the good ones because they are the gold of my childhood. People say you have to live in the moment, that’s good and when you do it is a real high. However our minds are constructed to easily access millions of memories and actions and it does so with great speed. I’ve accepted the deaths of many, their time has come whether it’s illness or accident. It’s the taking of the self that is hard to accept, especially when she had four children still in their teens. We can chase this one around the tree for ages and still not get a definitive answer on why. So she will never go away in my mind. There will always be a place I can visit there and rewind the good stuff. Don’t think it stops me living my life, I have many things I want to do. I look at it as going to the movies for a short time. When I look at what it did to her children it is a reminder to me of the hurt that can be passed on, big lesson there.
      I miss the chickens too.
      Laurie.

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      1. Jane Risdon

        It was the 14.5% Red wine that done it….but if we don’t have vices we must be perfect and if we were perfect we would not be writing!! Take care, glad to be back and reading your lovely blog and seeing your lovely photos too. Lifts the spirit.

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      2. laurie27wsmith Post author

        I had a feeling it was in some way alcohol related, hmm no OH&S happening here. I’ll send someone around. 🙂 Look Jane you have to have some vices, life can be miserable enough as it is. Photos will be coming.

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  7. rayjamieson

    “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man” Heraclitus
    I love this quote. I have often been to the farm in Southern NSW where I was born and lived for 21 years. It’s now part of a major farming conglomerate and run for the dollar value only, so it is overgrown with thistles and other weeds, and each years turns off 1500 acres of wheat and some scraggly sheep for shearing. However, I still ‘feel’ it, when I go past. No one or nothing can take away those secret places kids go when exploring creeks and gullies.

    That’s very different to a house though. Houses are much more personal and change so much more energetically. I have to agree with all your sentiments Laurie. My farm home was different, but with houses, you are spot on.

    I’d buy back the farm and rebuild it, knowing the energy was still there, waiting for some loving TLC to bring it out again. However, I doubt if there’s a house I’d like to go back to…

    Get well soon, love your work Laurie,
    Ray

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    1. laurie27wsmith Post author

      Great quote Ray and very true. it must make you sad to see something that was once so vital and strong become overgrown and unkempt. Oh and unloved. yes it is also the landscape because not only does it leave its mark on us, we leave ours on it. Yes the house is definitely more personal, I think we wear it like an old coat that’s comfortable and when it’s gone we search for that comfort and knowing. I feel with you and the land is that is where you feel the greatest connection. You can’t work it and till it without gaining a deep understanding of how it feels towards you. Thanks for reading Ray and your kind sentiments.
      Cheers
      Laurie.

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  8. Raani York

    This is very touching Laurie, and very sad too. There’s a lot of dark memory hidden – and slowly tries to escape.
    People say: “Let the past go”. But what is there to do if the past doesn’t let one go?
    I will try to send you smiles and light, Laurie. That’s what friends are for.
    Hugs

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    1. laurie27wsmith Post author

      Thanks Raani. there is a darkness there that many will not believe. Overlaid with sadness and loss. You’re right sometimes the past is hanging onto us. Crazy isn’t it? I’ll take all the smiles and light you want to send. Oh yeah and hugs, love hugs. 🙂
      Laurie.

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  9. Pagadan

    The house where I was born was bulldozed many years ago–as was the barn–since I was born on my grandparents’ farm. I’ve lived in many homes since then–some of which I know are long gone, but I’ve enjoyed driving by some now and then.

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    1. laurie27wsmith Post author

      It’s something like a homing instinct, we get drawn back to our birthplace. I imagine we all look for different things. Bit sad about the old place being bulldozed. 😦
      Laurie.

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  10. hitandrun1964

    That was so…intense. So “lost little boy,” looking for “something.” Very deep, emotional and touching. There is never any going back because there is never anything to go back to, not really. You can never go home again because that home…no longer exists. Someone asked me just recently if I ever drove by “my house.” I sad, “No. Why would I?” I’m sorry you didn’t find what you were looking for. I hope writing about it helped a bit. Want do you want? What were you seeking? I would like t know. I hope you are feeling well and that you are getting better everyday.

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    1. laurie27wsmith Post author

      Hi Gigi, thank you for your kind comments. Very much the lost little boy indeed. When I went back I took in the whole town at first, leaving my home until last. I walked my soles off reconnecting with my childhood. It was more than catching up with elderly relatives and finding an old chum. The journey was about finding the fragments, wanting to feel the good times, especially with my elder sister. She took her life in 1987 and I have yet to fully repair the hole in my self that her departure left. Returning to that house I stood across the street for a little while and grieved for a childhood that, while at times was happy it had huge periods of pain and degradation. It’s like falling off a horse or bicycle you have to get back on again. The same with my old home, I had to confront this edifice of bricks and mortar. To ‘speak’ with it, to see if it had changed or if indeed it was still a keeper of secrets foul. The whole yard had been concreted, as if it would stop the rot from oozing through. I feel comfortable with the house now, my sister on the other hand will always be a stumbling block. I know why she took her life, I even understand. I just can’t help but feel cheated out of many years of her love and being here. We shared the pain and that is what kept us together, it became too much for her. I know you cannot go back, time has moved on but the ghosts haven’t and I feel them. What may not be apparent is my home is in England and I’m here in Australia. So until 2002 I never had an opportunity to go back and confront these events. I’m still unwell and not a lot has changed so it’s down to waiting for tests.
      Cheers
      Laurie.

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