A Stranger Home
In this abandoned attic I see nothing but a criss-cross frame of old wood (an oak, an ash?) and three rays shining through the grimy windows, left, right, and center, as if preparing the space for a stage set.
Three planks of wood, three rays of sun, one window. No people.
As I bend down to inspect the wood I see that each plane is carved with a miniscule block of text in no language I can read or decipher. Or is it termite bites?
The high-beam rays of the sun give me the sense I'm under inspection. But they also make me feel slightly warm. It is a home, after all.
On the plane of wood closest to me I hear a tiny whirring sound. I can almost hear the light quivering as I watch myself breathe. I look down and the whirring doesn't stop.
It's coming from a firefly who is sitting on a plank of wood watching the sun — same as I had been doing. He's sitting in front of a cockroach. I'm grossed out by roaches usually but this one has a pearly shell. And he's also whirring. Softly, so softly.
When they stopped, the light also stopped.
And I understood — they were making light!
Knowing where the stars are when you arise.
Knowing they're still there when you can't and won't look at them.
Knowing to go near the water, on a ship, away from solid land.
Knowing every closed door, when you re-imagine it, can be a window, an entrance to another world.
Knowing when to come back to this one.
Knowing you are like the snail — you both carry your own home.
Knowing when to be silent and go home.
Knowing you can't ever go home.
I walk in a grove of plane trees. In my native Odessa, they were called бесстыдница, "shameless ones" — because of the way they'd shed their bark. I twirl their fuzzy fruit in her fingers and struggled to find a path in the midst of the grove.
After a while I give up and just plop down in the shade of one of these trees. The sky is darkening around me, but I feel I had nowhere else to go.
"Home," I think and will all of my movements to still like those small birds that halt their cries for joy and help at sunrise.
"Home," I think while clouds assumed texture and weight and swayed gently like bewildered flowers.
"Home," I intone while the platypus-shaped island in the distance moved in my direction. It also looked like a hand with a trembling thumb.
I stretch under the dark leaves of the plane trees and feel my body long and strong with the tintinnabulations of home, the tarot cards of memory, the stained glass fragments of mother-daughter-lover residing in me, the naves of my windows, the high beams of my cathedral taking root.
Never an echo amiss.
A stranger home.
Natalya Sukhonos is bilingual in Russian and English and also speaks Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Natalya has a PhD in Comparative Literature from Harvard University. She teaches Spanish at Ramaz School, and works as a consultant for Writing Curriculum at Minerva Schools, CGI. Her poems are published by The Saint Ann's Review, Driftwood Press, Middle Gray Magazine, The Really System and other journals. Natalya was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2015 and the Best New Poets Anthology of 2015.