Stranger

I blinked at your invitation
to enter my own house.
Who am I again?
But here is the door, and
I walk through to what has
always been.

I depend upon you
always being the same somehow.
Denial in its super-hero cape
swoops in to rescue me
and there I am again,
twenty years before,
in your arms
in my imagination
and supposing that you
were and are and evermore
and will be hereafter, the same,
the same. Please. Be the same.

I wore the ring you once gave me
and I wonder if you noticed.
There is no use pretending I have
moved on, because I haven’t.

I stand still as life drags me
forward like a moving sidewalk.
The mirror likes to remind me
of this discrepancy, along with
the dim realization that I am
a stranger in my own house
that is now your house,
though on paper I am still here,
and that is why I never get around
to signing things.

In high school math class,
I was paying attention
when the teacher talked
about absolute zero
because to me it sounded like
something other than math.

I loved the idea
of an absolute value,
neither positive nor negative,
just an “is”,
a sufficiency of whatever it is,
just being itself.

That is all I ever hoped to be,
and I feel like I failed so much more
than math class.

You mumble something about
the fence needing repairs
but I only see pain all around,
suspending us inside its sagging circle,
an absolute that never changes
since I refuse to believe mirrors
and useless legal documents and
the missing ring on your left hand.

Here I am,
the stranger I never wanted to be,
pretending to come home.

Claire Juno, © 2018

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