Once I Lived

A poem


After du Bellay

Ulysses, Jason—they were the real travelers,
but merely arriving home is not the whole story.
Once I lived with a view all the way to LaGuardia,
and at dusk the planes were beads on a single thread.
Once I lived in a neighborhood where the light was unemotional,
and an exiled Greek waited for his country to be freed.
Once I lived in a city with a name that was beautiful,
lit by a cathedral’s Burgundian Gothic rose.
Once I lived on a hilltop with Monadnock blue in the distance,
and ran like an Arabian through the pastures all day long.
The place that is always at the center of your heart
(if you have a heart; if you had a center once)
becomes clear only by the places it is not,
by which time it is too late for returning.