Archive for June 8th, 2021

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

While We Are Still Alive by William Heyen

“Why don’t we find each other, and go home, while we are still alive?” – James Wright

I ease my seat back to try to doze,
and do, almost. A stewardess
brushes by in her cloud perfume.
How long before I’m home?

Terminal . . . . I stand in a circle
for my suitcase. Paranoid eyes
jump from one suspect to another.
When was I ever home?

Businessmen in black wingtips
click along corridors to waiting cars.
At least my line is busy:
someone must be home.

Something went wrong somewhere
in our lives, or we would not be here.
I try the phone again. This time,
the right number, no one home.

I sit down, untie my shoes,
close my eyes to think something through,
but what’s the use when a numb brain
droops from its stem?

I life my suitcase to my lap,
drum it with my fingers, hum,
stand too fast, dizzy, a dream
cut through by the clear ache for home.

Automatic doors buzz
but open only half way.
I bang into plate glass panes,
step back again.

Inside, outside the door,
I stand invisible in this form.
Why don’t we find each other,
and go home?

From: Heyen, William, ‘While We Are Still Alive’ in Southern Humanities Review, Volume 20.4, Fall 1986, p. 316.

Date: 1986

By: William Heyen (1940- )