The way you turn a key in a lock
looks like the calculated manipulation of a compass
as your pointer finger circles the edge of the doorknob
and your thumb keeps the key in the center, in place.

Navigation tools weigh down your pockets like ballast
and no matter how stormy the sea or dead the wind
you always seem to find a way to make it home.
Clumps of metal, rusted to ruin or polished to glory,
never lose out to the other things you could be keeping in
the spaces they take up.

(Brittle shells and cracked wood, tokens from your time away,
little irreducible but no less instrumental talismans
fill the gaps between the navigational tools and, deeper,
in the gaps between the gaps, sand
like gravity expanding in the hollows, sand like gravity
like ballast keeping you heavy and slow.)

And what room is left between the sand for anything else?
No room for real gravity, just the memory of it.

If the place you need to go is home, I’ll let you leave.

On the wall I spread my fingers out
and with my eyes, trace the path of a thin gray line
looping over the branches, until I pull my fingers in tight
and imagine you pressing back from the other side of the wall –
here is the church, here is the steeple.

When I open the door, I’ll see all the people
homecoming and can only hope
you’ll have had enough of home at this point
to come back, too.

Your fingers, two long legs on a tool
mapping out a distance on a door like it may lead you somewhere
other than the hallway, like the next turn
might just map enough space out to show you where you’re meant to be.

Michelle Lesniak is a graduate student of English with a BA in English from The College of New Jersey. She spends her time writing, creating music, painting with watercolors, and trying hard not to try too hard.

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