They Come & Go

They Come & Go by Nancy Schatz Alton

I sing praise to what remains:

the living room lit by tiny lights

my family talking

me returning.


All the phrases that help remind me

of what remains

these phrases swirl

& catch

& hit

the light.


it could have been otherwise

there was always something wrong

life is real

my life is real


my graveyard littered

(with what no longer remains)

isn’t bright like

the living room

lit by tiny lights

by love

by banter

by my husband

who asks

why did the girls leave?


The lights still shine

after they retreat

we banter

why’d they leave?


People leave

& return

our living room lit

by what remains

by memory

of what will never return

the sound of laughter shared

with people we no longer know.


That’s why, I think,

we hold so tight

to what remains

even if the girls slip off

& up to their rooms

to their lives

that aren’t about us

but they’re not ghosts yet.


We banter.

We pull them back,

We ask, why’d you leave

even though

we already know the answer.


I unlock the door

and find my loves

backlit, lovely, lighted.

I am lit by love.


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