Right of Return

I would like the right of return to a village
in the Ukraine conceived by David Lean
sunflowers barley fields mill with great stone slowly turning—

I would like the right of return to a port
on the Black Sea, smell of brine,
turpentine, good ships filled with something from or to Cathay—

I would like to return to a metropolitan city
with ornamental ironwork on the bridges and smug
cafés that serve absinthe—

I would like the right of return to everything I love,
I loved, I thought I loved, I might have loved
except for the climate, the people, I couldn’t get a job,

I lost my job, my boyfriend left, I left him,
we both left for a place we thought we’d love
or had loved, or knew we’d never love but what difference did it make?
the point is—we can’t—

Can’t go back to the true love, old love,
old face and grace of the lilting selves
we thought we were, or were, or hoped to be—

Can’t go back to the books and poems never written,
badly written, half-written and discarded—
Can’t hear your mother’s laugh or smell your father’s pipe,
can’t sleep cuddled and safe between your grandparents—

But we persist and we endure,
encounter one another and hold fast, as our life’s wheel
turns around the bend of circumstance or despair—

as fortune’s wheel spins slow the disk sublime,
Hear one another’s voices in the dark mark our short-lived time.