“The Empty House” by Marjorie Agosin

you return
to the empty house
you recognize yourself
diminished between
its thresholds
you remember that dawn and the
the captive gaze of the neighbors
in the perfidious ceremonies of an
unwelcome goodbye

now you return
in vain, you do not succeed
in finding yourself
the bushes in the garden
are like a love in ruins
bodies abandoned after
useless quarrels
or perhaps bodies of the disappeared
that you seek in vain in your night
in your language
in your memory

you visit your parents’ room
where your mischievous childhood entered
and surprised them in the darkness of their siestas
you are the child who watched over the
exigencies of love

now, the empty bed,
on the walls, stains, cracks,
the ugliness of abandonment

you return to the empty house
to a country at war
without sub machine guns
but still a war caused by forgetting
by the silence of the dead
by the dead hours
by gagged voices

you return in order to still believe in
or to feel that something in the wind
reminds you of what was once yours
perhaps the birch tree
swaying in front of the picture windows
on those rainy nights
when you believed in ghosts
their footprints, their laughter
and you let yourself be wrapped in the warmth of sleep
that sheltered your faith

that is why you return today

A nice poem .The poets family had left the country when the war was raging and now he returns to the empty house after all the devastation caused by the war. Two poignant thoughts of the poet have touched me deeply.

…perhaps bodies of the disappeared

That you seek in vain in your night

In your language

and in your memory..


The usage "that you seek in vain in your night/ in your language /and in your memory"  conveys  effectively the freshness of a gut-wrenching sorrow that the poet  experiences again and again as he takes a tour of the empty house .The second one which touches me deeply is the memory of his childhood when as  a mischievous child he surprised his parents in the darkness of their siestas in this very room which is now an empty room.


The poem has been translated from the Spanish by Roberta Gordenstein


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