David O'Meara

We keep forgetting something back there, don't we?
We pop out the door, turn corners, the shops unchanged,
but data nags like a black box has signalled

from the wreckage, or a high voice is calling down
a long street across medians of statued piazzas,
river bends, concert halls (vertigo in the nosebleeds), barista
beards at homogeneous counters, X-rayed luggage,

passport please, carousel fatigue, caffeinated reveries in taxis,
the balcony's very non-sea view, our frugal mattress picnics
watching own-goals in stoppage time, the must-sees we didn't, phone
calls, emails, our return's fine-toothing of apartment vacancies

with thoughts that nothing would change, as if we'd rush back
through traffic, across three continents, a decade, to find
my father still alive, the cat at its bowl, and the iron left on.

from Masses on Radar (Coach House, 2021). Reproduced with permission of the author