The Time Back Home

by Lorelei Bacht 

The time back home started flowing 
At a much different pace from ours – 
A shift almost imperceptible at first, 
Then a chasm, undeniable. Across 
The distance of a continent, we can still 
Hear their distant voices, on and off, 
Online – It is not quite the same: we seem 
to have parted ways, only capable
Of conversing when the planets align, 
Once every century. 

The time back home has gone sour, 
Thick and slow like an underwater dream.
Muffled panic in the distance, nothing 
They write makes any sense. They talk 
Of bubbles, complicated lines 
Between, around old people and places
We once thought connected. There is 
No such thing as stopping on the way home 
Just to say hi. 

The time back home has accelerated, 
Perhaps, and we have become a relic 
Of a distant and glorious past – that is 
How they must feel reading about our lives, 
Which are quotidian and eerily 
Unaffected – what they would give, 
For a chance to complain about 
Our minor inconveniences: sometimes,
We have to wait a few hours
To buy some beer. 

The time back home is incalculable, 
Unlike The time difference of the old days. 
How simple then, to add or retract a handful 
Of hours. Now the difference is measured 
In days, birthdays missed, weeks, 
Of impossible quarantines, months 
And years without seeing loved ones. And the certainty
that without a hug, a gentle 
Touch, the irreplaceable presence of one to one, 
We have begun the slow but irremediable process 
Of turning into ghosts.

Lorelei Bacht is a European poet living in Asia with her family, which includes two young children and a lot of chaos. Her work focuses on aging, motherhood, and finding onself as a nearly middle-aged woman. Some of her musings and previous publications can be found on her Instagram feed. Sulochana Mahe is an artist based in India’s former French outpost, Mahe. She dissolves herself day in, day out in social work, and art. Her work includes teaching painting to cancer patients, helping them overcome their sense of being doomed. She taught art to 150 prisoners at the Central Prison, Kannur, moving their minds to the softer sides of life. Teaching art to women at a care home in Thalassery gives her joy that colors can’t.