Reserve St

I walked along reserve street
searching: what number?
three, not five (too modern)
seven, nine, eleven,
thirteen, fifteen, seventeen?
I was looking for the here and then
but all I saw was    now.

your past is a foreign country
I can’t get there any more
the borders have been closed
my passport revoked
my citizenship denied
all I have are souvenirs, photos, memories
but a plastic eiffel tower is not paris
nor is a leather camel, gaudy with sequins, morocco.

that past is so distant    the wonder is
that its borders and mine
ever shared the same location
the same brief loop
in curved time-space
before you went spinning off
beyond the bounds
and I went on to test mine.

in that loop it was all that was
all that ever was
all that ever was
such a tiny country
stretching forever
in all directions.

when you lived in that house
in reserve street (whatever its number)
it was ten years before
my mother was born
forty-seven before me
ninety-five from the city’s foundation
there are few maps to that country
and the compass won’t work
but there are clues

I walk the streets you might have walked
would have walked   did walk
I see the view you might have seen
but it’s not the same view at all
and the houses have been altered
(rebuilt, repainted
cars in the driveway
aerials on the roof, lawn mowers roaring)

nostalgia strikes like an illness
like dysentery or malaria
it recurs in bouts
when I least expect it
I may never be fully cured
but I can control it
keep taking the medication:
now is the only time there is.

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