By Anne Walsh
She’s reading the biography of raindrops illuminated past 3 AM by the monk
streetlight through her friend’s living room window. How the lantern inside the drops
translates now – sleeping on someone else’s couch at fifty – into an ancient wonder.
How it words this first night of homelessness into Christmas when she was six.
Memories are a liquid wall of shimmer on the verge of streets.
It looks like Christmas Eve.
These days light is her house.
Light houses her.
No forms to fill out.
In the light inside of rain, in the glow part of the sound of it.
For a second she is who she used to be.
Light can make a sweet dream of homelessness.
And she’s loved again.
And feels what it must be like
(she doesn’t remember it).
But most times there is no light and she prefers it that way.
The sun is the worst lack of light there is.
Searing, prying. The sun is a bully. The rain, her best friend.
Strange how everyone wants to help the homeless under two conditions:
- That they don’t know them.
- Only when they’re cold.
Not when they’re burning, which is always.
Lack of love is a worse fire than love. It razes homes
(just look at where hers used to be) and the kindling of mistrust
grows by the fire of lack of love in the winter of every second.
The wick of alone is long.
Everyone who sees with two eyes can see
almost gleefully how she’s not who she was.
But they’re lackeys of the kingpin sun,
the dumb ones caught with the gun.
Who breathe in shallows and cling to surface lives
only slightly more gratefully
having viewed what they perceive she’s lost.
But they can’t see hope
monkfish on her friend’s couch
(not more than one night because homeless people must be strangers),
creates her own light.
Sun puts a knife in the back pocket of her thought of homeless days.
But the monk rain refuses to illuminate what won’t light her
tonight the red-tape of proving she’s as poor as she is is a Tiffany’s bauble
on the evergreen storm through the window.
A mom’s years of raising gorgeous-as-wild-ermine
empathetic kids, her volunteering for literacy and library at their primary
school her degree in History, her executive management in Sydney,
her having owned anything jointly, on the rental market,
without a man now – who must’ve been the real owner –
to guarantee it, mean nothing.
Realtors smell something unprofessional about motherhood.
Single motherhood especially.
They smell risk in eleven magic ermine years at home.
And a husband’s lawyer loves to continue the abuse.
Of a lawyer-less wife.
But her homelessness houses a sacred codex: her.
In the gift of drops, in the bestiary rain, dear,
indomitable mom of three, poet: her.
Rain monk scribing god-talk under streetlights.
Centrelink forms shadowed by her giant elk antlers,
her archangel-owl wings silent
except for the speech of everything,
her un-catchable flight.
No one can own.
Wild grief signing over her home.
For her new, ancient and only once love.
Someone else’s lawyer waiting to gloat,
“giving” her, as if ownership were a gift of men to women,
a minute where she raised her kids.
Her body then matching her forever half-soul in flight after,
through the door ajar with years.
But still her boreal wild.
How it lands on the roof.
How the men can’t fix her in their lack of sights.
But still, how could she have only until
though memory won’t budge,
to leave where she raised her three babies?
How she sang them to sleep in the hall, way
of worlds, Irish sea songs and the Fox
that Went Out on a Chilly Night
and Take Me Home, Country Roads.
How she read Seamus Heaney
and Jack London to them.
Wells and wild dogs.
Oh, how she fed them!
And she texts the one she left All the abuse, but never her kids, for
as she closes the door
that’s impossible to close.
Just to have his pic back at the top of her one-name un-contactable list.
Soulbreak of an angeltree, her home on the market overlooking the Sea.
On the market love herself.
And she’s the currency.
The salmon silver of her. Her bear copper. Dead in the woods.
Killed in hibernation with new legislation
by men who call that sport.
A trophy hunt for wolves.
Means Spring will not wake up.
Her mom is gone.
But right now she’s celebrating six year old Christmas at fifty on a friend’s couch.
She and the rain filthy, rich though their pockets are turned out. But this Alpha is a mom.
She knows how she is, to three, a home. To four, including her own
only-one-of-her-kind wolf self.
And she knows how this home she is will never again be owned.
How her not having one is of far lesser consequence
to the welfare of Everyone than her without hope,
than her not creating her own light that everyone can read that hope by
in whatever darkness they find themselves.
In whatever kind of night.