Aftermath of a Pilgrimage

by Audrey Spensley

Of course they have scars. No one crosses an ocean
just for fun. An unknown geography still stitched
into the lines of their sunken palms. It’s embarrassing,

your tongue dragging across the rugged syllables
of bloodlines mixed and torn, their eyes swollen
like fruit but more harsh. Maybe there’s not

a learning curve. Maybe there’s no way to navigate
the mangled syntax, the November morning
when you rechristen yourself Sarah. A soft

name, the rough edges of accents smoothed
out like tangled sheets. You stumble over
the desperation of their love the way your fingers

stumbled over the piano keys, the wobbly
attempts at calligraphy. Your mother is
the keeper of the two paned windows

in the kitchen, catching the dying light between
her fingers. Behind the glass she sees familiar soil
sprouting the ripe pears you spear open before dinner.

Or it’s the soft puncture of a sigh when they see
the magazines splayed open across your lap
like borders wrenched apart. Or it’s her eyes

after she hangs up a call across a hemisphere,
the receiver muted in static, silenced
like a bullet wound.