The Return


Put away embroidering frame and turn
from the empty terrace, for he has come home.

Mastering embrace of salt-caked leather,
wooden lips and speechlessness attend

You now, and now as weather worsens
distant over those long familiar straits

Cautions of the lover navigate within
wind-loosened rooms and drift you down

To deeps where wrecks unthought of lie
lodged in the corals like amphorae;

How many years then vanish, swamped
and spun away in that one night’s storm?

Can you begin to live in the absence
of his absence and welcome him each dawn

As out of the narrowing harbour he walks
to an altered house? Plant hyacinth

And rose along the path, the terrace with
valley thyme, for he is come home.

from Latitudes of Exile (McIndoe, 1976), © Michael Jackson 1976, used by permission of the author. Recording from the Waiata New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive 1974.

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