On Leaving Home

What would you take if it were us? she asked.

I shook my head.

.

She was silent for a moment, watching the television.

There were adverts: for cars, for perfumes,

For garden furniture and super-sized burgers.

It all seems so petty, she said.

I nodded.

.

What would you take?

.

A handful of photographs, I suppose.

Our papers and bank cards.

Don’t forget the last of that bread.

And put on your warmest coat, a hat,

Your gloves and your boots.

.

Can I take this?

.

No, leave that. We’ve no room.

Maybe we’ll be back sometime.

Maybe as soon as next Spring.

If there’s anything left to return to, that is.

If there’s anyone here who would welcome us back.

.

Where have you come from?

.

I no longer remember the answer to that.

Possibly Sumy or Sana,

On the other hand, Aleppo, or Aden.

It might have been Myanmar,

Conceivably Kyiv or Kandahar.

.

Why should we allow you in? who are you?

.

Who am I? I might be your son,

Your daughter, your wife or your father.

One day, I might even be you.

And on that day, pray for a compassionate welcome,

Pray for the kindness of strangers.