I knew it was time to leave again,
in the middle of the hottest summer in years.
The humidity crept along my skin
and reminded me
I didn’t grow up this way.
You called me too late at night
and told me it was time
You’d waited long enough.
Your voice sounded unfamiliar
muffled in static, a bad connection.
Palm tree fronds broke off
and fell outside my bedroom window.
The grass in the backyard dried up.
I slept on the floor
beside the fan, listening to it whirl
around and around
I’m not made for standing still
I woke up to the sound of packing tape
ripping between cardboard boxes.
The house closing in on itself
How can I create
if I can’t confront
these feelings of displacement?
When I thought about leaving
my throat closed up.
When I thought about staying
I felt lightheaded.
I hung up the phone and walked out
to the back verandah.
The gumtrees reached out
across the streetlights
That night I packed the boot of my car
and headed south on the highway
A compass, quivering
The roads were slippery
from an afternoon storm
An engine, rumbling
I wanted to tell you I was confused.
A clock, ticking
I left without saying goodbye
The illusion of stability
I wondered what I’d forgotten,
what I’d left behind
Lights, fading at the edges,
There’s always something I leave behind
Suburban streets vibrating
with comings and goings
I recognised you
from the way our words unfolded in the same pattern
on the pages
From the other side of the world
and the questions that lingered
When are you arriving?
Why haven’t you left?
Because home is everywhere and nowhere
Because maybe I am afraid
© Serena Chalker and Grace Finlayson 2015