Thwaites: Sorry I’m late

When James is away for any reason the separation feels strange. An unexpected absence of only an hour can sometimes be scary.


You are late coming home
To the house we share
An audible silence
Chills the air
Nothing unusual
Cause for alarm
I am the jangle
In this dead calm
Chairs stand about
Books, papers lie
What are they there for?
No reply
The clock’s hands follow
Their programmed pace
All you get is a print-out
From its silly face

Belongings, photographs
Down vista’d years
Cherished but blank
To the leap of fears

The mind concedes
Not comprehends
That all beginnings
Have their ends
What if that past
Is all our past?
Our last argument
Was our last?
Wheels in the driveway
Squeak of a gate
A touch, with groceries,
Sorry I’m late.

Michael Thwaites. The Honey man and other poems. 2nd edn. Canberra, Trendsetting, 1993.