Leaving home for the last time

by Jeannie Prinsen

Not long ago I went to the farmhouse, found the key
hanging in the same place, and let myself in, heard
my shoes echo on the bare floors, watched myself peer

into each empty room with something resembling interest.
I couldn’t feign the enthusiasm a buyer might feel
looking round, sensing promise in those good old bones

picturing children and grandchildren cavorting on the lawn.
Those days were gone and I was like a museum goer
surveying half-familiar artifacts with polite indifference.

Outside again I heard a banging sound, irregular but
persistent, seeming to come from beyond the grove – yet
wherever I stood to listen it was always somewhere

behind me. It must have been a bird trapped in one
of the barns, thumping over and over against
the roof. When I finally drove off I was sadder

to leave that bird than those vacant rooms, for my heart
felt much the same, wings beating against the rafters
of memory, captivated, yet bent on flying away.

— from Juniper Volume 4, Issue 2