The world looked different back then.
Our house stood at the top of a hill, one of the
supposed seven on which the city stood. From my bedroom
I could see all its lights shining in the night, stretched out
like a dream of sparks and embers.
The house backed on to a municipal park. In the summer,
in full leaf, trees blocked the view of the city.
Through autumn, winter and spring, though,
I could see these lights, this lit carpet of life
spread before me like a tribute.
The daytime views were of bright miles of hills
and buildings, distances as vague as the future;
or, on wet days, of looking down on rain clouds
rolling slowly in the valleys.
Thunder and lightning were an unspeakable thrill
that almost made me believe in God,
but not quite. I was young then.
I didn’t know the value of that kind of thing,
being able to see for miles,
not having someone looking back at you.
I just liked the quiet of it, my bedroom,
looking out at the night, the lights of my room
switched off, cosseting myself in darkness.
Somewhere else in the house, my mother
was realising that her children would
all be leaving home soon
and that she couldn’t afford to live there alone.
I didn’t see that coming.
The house was sold soon after the last of us left.
My view now is of someone else’s house,
someone I don’t like, who doesn’t like me back.
The old house isn’t far away. I could go back,
see what it’s like now, but I never have.
The world looks too different now.