Kay Mullen: "Never the Same"




After thirty-seven years, I can’t find words,

as if snow still sparkles the wood stack

and blue-green flashes in the Northern sky.


I search for the duplex on Fairbanks Street,

the house where we lived that first year

of our marriage, the year our monastic


lives folded into one.  I drive several times

to the corner and back, an unfamiliar world

so I look for old landmarks: the row


of apartments across the street, wide

spaces between homes that seemed

a long walk to the mailbox, the two-lane


street, now four, fields where new homes

stand.  Old firs surround the yard obscuring

the once-white clapboard, repainted


somber brown.  Certain memories

seem precise: the bay window, the short

steps to the front door where you carried me


over the threshold.  I wonder if

the fireplace still brightens on cold winter

nights, if holiday lights glow from the wide


front window, if the kitchen steams

from sourdough bread and wild blueberry

jam.  Shutters and chimney seem


the same, the two-car garage on the left

where chopped wood may still be thawed. 

I drive to the end of the block to a dirt road


we often walked before noon, the sun shining

through mist where the world spins away

from its light.  The house, smaller, forsaken.



Kay Mullen has authored two full-length collections of poetry, A Long Remembering: Return to Vietnam (2006) and Let Morning Begin (2001). Her work has appeared in various literary journals and anthologies.