S.K. Kelen

Lit.-Mag #36
Home & Homecoming

The captain says it’s cold

Coming Home (from my Papuan holiday)

Goodbye Moresby.
Goodbye jungle.
Flying home. Over the phosphorescent green reef
where the wing of a Japanese transport plane
stands like a broken soldier.
Across a jade desert that joins the sky.
Over the mountains that were really clouds.
At thirty-thousand feet: when clouds look like
they’re just on top of the sea. Through a
chicken leg, a glass of white table wine and
six continental cakes.
Over more sea.
The Great Barrier Reef.
Sugar plantations, rivers, towns.
Factories and roads.
Keeping the plane late by being the only person
to declare his carvings in customs at Brisbane airport.
Flying farther south into night.
The sun is a red ball at the edge of a purple sky:
a piece of blue left-over daylight touches
the horizon. The sun slips over
the side of the world. Then darker blue, darker blue,
then purple, indigo giving way to black sky.
And stars all across it.
Somewhere down there is my house.
Sydney the city and I can see buses and lights on the streets.
And it’s raining. The captain says it’s cold.
All those fools in their Bombay bloomers
and safari shirts trundle off the jet
and run across the tarmac through the rain.
Mum, Dad. It’s your boy.
Home after three weeks.
Hugs and kisses when we get home, please!
A transistor radio for you, little brother.
I’ll tell you about it all in the car.
How are things? How’s that dumb dog of mine?
Have I learned anything?
Sure, sure.

May 1972

Port Moresby, 1972

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