After she died, there was nothing. Spark, little heart, had gone out. Where did I live all of those months? What did I eat, and how did I know I was hungry? I wanted nothing. The boy I was had followed her to the grave. The man I might become was waiting to come out, hiding behind the secrets she and I shared. There was nothing. Little spark, heart, was silent. I raged at every face I met but felt nothing. Or, the absence of something. I wanted to believe these things were equal, but they weren’t. The world out of balance, I walked with the gait of a man who is falling sideways. Who was there to catch me? Where was there to fall? Nothing. The utter silence of space was a comfort, cold, black, endless. No one would find me there. Little heart, spark, was alone. It separated from me, wanted nothing to do with me. It lived, invisible, in stairwells and hallways, basements and attics. Those who came across it thought it a ghost, and ran. Spark, little heart, was waiting. It couldn’t come back now. I had nothing, nowhere for it. My chest was poison.
Delicately curling in upon themselves, as a galaxy curls in upon itself: Containment. Infinity. Our ruins. The closest we will ever come to an Acropolis or a Pompeii. They stand singly, sometimes in pairs or in groups, dropped where the farmers left them when winter forced everyone inside. Broken columns – home to small lives – mice, squirrels – they sag under the snow’s weight, begin to lean, to rot, to return to the soil upon which they sit, the soil from which they sprang.
The ship enters the haunted harbor and docks. The man disembarks, walks the empty pier - it's so late - no one should be here but ghosts, rats, and ragged dogs. He digs through his pockets, looking for the key, then walks the hilly streets of the rundown shipping town, searching for the lock that fits it. He finds the door and enters the silent house. It's been empty for months, nothing happening but the usual decay, the beams a little thinner, the books turning a little more into dust. Home has never been an easy place. Not merely where he lays his head nor the building and land he owns, the one that bears his address, the place the mail collects. Every home he's ever left, he carries with him on his back, a turtle whose shell grows heavier, accruing more layers every year.
William Reichard has published four collections of poetry, and his fifth, Two Men Rowing Madly Toward Infinity, will be released by Broadstone Books in Spring 2016. Reichard is the editor of Amerian Tensions: Literature of Identity and the Search for Social Justice, an anthology of contemporary fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.