“The Visitor” by Danusha Laméris

Danusha Laméris


You can get used to almost anything. 
Like whatever it was that lived
in my best friend’s house when we were girls. 
You’d hear its steady tic tic tic up and down 
the stairs, feel it sweep past you 
in the darkened hall. And what about 
those nights we stayed up late 
talking in the living room? How we kept 
turning up the heat, but each time, the dial 
slid back to its familiar chill.
The story: a medic back from World War II. 
His apartment in the attic.
Which explains the time she woke 
and saw a grizzled countenance
gazing down at her, a flashlight 
fixed on her face. 
And somehow, even after that,
kept on sleeping in her room, 
dreaming under her thick blankets,
while he went on clodding down the hall, 
taking notes, checking beds. 
This is how it is to live with loss, 
the visitor that never leaves. It walks 
through your house. It eats your bread, 
sleeps in an upstairs room. Sometimes, 
you pass in the kitchen, give 
each other a nod. More ordinary 
than terrible. Except, some nights, 
when it wakes you, shines its full heft 
in your face and what was broken in you 
breaks again, though after, your one half 
tells the other what it knows: 
such sorrow means you have survived, 
have lived to bear its weight.

from Rattle #82, Winter 2023


Danusha Laméris: “I write because I am trying to get closer and closer to the marrow of it, whatever the It might be. I write to try and find order in chaos. And sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I do.” (web)

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