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Emily Vail

My Mom visited me in Maine this summer. This poem, written after her departure, started as a rash of sad scribbling in my notebook. New to writing poetry, I welcome any feedback.

Gone Again

Gone again. 
It always ends like this. 
Uneasy aftermath—
Beds stripped, floors swept,
Sinks scrubbed spotless,
The house holding its breath
In the milky stillness of morning.

Suddenly I cherish your fugitive trail—
Echo of padding feet,
Sigh of screen door, 
Rustling newspaper on the porch,
Tumble of sheets and towels, 
Crumbs and coffee rings, 
Leftover tonic bottles and wedges of lime.

In shadowy silence I regret
This sharp return to order,
Wild rush to vacuum and ventilate
Wipe down, shake out, straighten up.
Now haplessly I search 
For a stray stain, 
A sticky spot.

I shiver in these rooms without you,
A sad turtle tucked in her tidy shell,
Shrinking from that dark day 
When you won’t be coming back.
We will have said our last goodbye,
And I will miss your mess
Long after you’ve gone.
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