The Whale at Home

When I rattle my keys in the front door
back from my daughter's, back from months on the road
this house looks at me. Where have you been?
it asks. I have nothing to say to you.

So here we are. Silent and dark.
My daughter and her cats are not here.
My hound dog Rex–who smiled on the front seat
beside me nine summers across the continent–

is not here. Sometimes I pretend he is close,
that he goes in and out the door with me
that he snores on the sofa. When I lie to sleep 
in the soft dark, I can hear him scrabble his blankets.

But I don't catch the gleam of his eyes
as I enter a room. He doesn't slam out 
the dog door to bark at someone on the road.
He is as silent as the house–

this house, which is too big for me. I read a book
by a woman who lost the right half of her brain to a stroke.
She said that going down the hallway at school
was like being a giant electric blue whale.

She had no edges except what bounced against the walls.
If we take it from the right brain, the dream brain
always there, as stars are, just masked by daylight
then we're always the whale.

In this silent house, that whale grows.
I become the monster of the Great Sea Blues
blue electrons rising up to the loft and the bedroom
and out through the door, under the wisteria to the studio.

If I get too small–say in the closet–the electrons
squawl through my hearing aid, electric ringing blue
and the Japanese bell with its blue tail of paper
rings back over the vent in the kitchen.

So it's ringing with sound, this place, 
radiant electric
and my dog is waiting in the garden.

—Sarah Webb, written to Eva H.B. prompt. the line "when I've been gone"

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