The Prodigal Son Returns Home to the Empty Nest
His mother who has not slept may now rest. Still in daylight she recites his name with all the meaning she can bring to the pair of tiny equal syllables. When she speaks that sound, a constellation of small points comes home to roost. Why did he leave, why has he put himself in debt, how come he never falls in love, what does he mean she did not love him in his youth? How to fix perception as the ground beneath is always shifting. Her fears have taken on a personality, and she pretends away the legacy without regard to who brought it to life.
They sat muted in their separate rectangles looking identically forward. The agenda was a theme and variations honoring the leader who could afford straight teeth but kept the mildly crooked ones as if reminding all that it was he who set the standard. Lots of jocular self-conscious tittering failed to hide the shared embarrassment of being there. Inclusion was a word; diversity, a label; equity, a dream. The prize of being part of something, small consolation.
Sheila E. Murphy is an American poet who has been writing and publishing actively since 1978. Murphy is the recipient of the Gertrude Stein Award for her book Letters to Unfinished J. (Green Integer Press, 2003). Her most recent book is Golden Milk (Luna Bisonte Prods, 2020). Reporting Live from You Know Where won the Hay(na)Ku Poetry Book Prize Competition from Meritage Press (U.S.A.) and xPress(ed) (Finland). Also in 2018, Broken Sleep Books brought out the book As If To Tempt the Diatonic Marvel from the Ivory.