On Closing the Apartment of My Grandparents of Blessed Memory by Robyn Sarah
Overcome with anxiety, I cleaned my office for most of the afternoon. I think I’m prepared for what’s to come, but I can’t shake the feeling that something colossal is about to go wrong. It’s like I’m constantly swallowing my own heart back down my throat, and if I let myself be still my stomach cramps with something I can’t name.
The trouble is, I always think I’ve got more time.
My bags are already half packed, and I’m not leaving until Saturday evening.
One door to my studio seems to have been a temporary housing for ants. N., armed with a can of death, started spraying. Frantic, I scratched my arms and legs. I feel them crawling all over my skin. They’ll get me back for this, I say, half mad almost. I’ll be gone and when I come back all the books on my table will be eaten by ants, all my things will be destroyed because we took away their home!, I shouted to no one in particular. C. shakes her head, laughing at me all the while. They’re not human, she tells me. They don’t think like us. I scratch my scalp, my nape, the backs of my thighs.
Wouldn’t you fight back, if you lost everything you love?
I’m cleaning and I’m cleaning and I’m cleaning and I don’t know why I don’t feel at peace. The trouble is, I always think I’ve no more time.
On Closing the Apartment of My Grandparents of Blessed Memory
And then I stood for the last time in that room.
The key was in my hand. I held my ground,
and listened to the quiet that was like a sound,
and saw how the long sun of winter afternoon
fell slantwise on the floorboards, making bloom
the grain in the blond wood. (All that they owned
was once contained here.) At the window moaned
a splinter of wind. I would be going soon.
I would be going soon; but first I stood,
hearing the years turn in that emptied place
whose fullness echoed. Whose familiar smell,
of a tranquil life, lived simply, clung like a mood
or a long-loved melody there. A lingering grace.
Then I locked up, and rang the janitor’s bell.
(from The Writer’s Almanac)