Homebody Without a Home

(for Rita Dove)

by Ralph Dumain

I am an idea
given room to live,
wear clothes,
move about,
walk the streets,
go to work.

I emerge
with tattered once beautiful
clothes. I survived
the torments.
Now my only home —
history, surrounded
by cliches, each space
a prison, becoming old fast,
everything tainted or exhausted,
I am out of synch,
always somewhere else,
in hope or loss,
while the freedom of the streets
shrinks into mind and modem.

I too love your Bachelard,
but my spaces are Sartre-contaminated.
This is the new nausea,
with memories of ecstasies achieved,
then snatched away. I am America
leaving Europe behind, Dolphy-sized,
now betrayed; I'm still aching
for infinity and for cozy
spaces. You take yourself
more seriously than I.
I'll not moan
while I can laugh.

Written 5-6 May 1994
© 1994, 2000 Ralph Dumain

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