When she comes home there is no fanfare, no bank holiday.
Still, the sun shines in all seasons. She is greeted with light,
dry winds, the fresh fruits of December. ‘What citrus’,
Father asks, ‘can compare to the citrus of Orange County?
O foolish daughter, what winters you have missed!’
On her first night they serve a meal of fish and aubergines
and ask her to recite the details of her Grand Adventure.
But Mother interrupts: ‘O dear, how false you are! How altered!
How can you speak that phoney English?’ She will not say
that she too has found things altered, things that only
a prodigal daughter can detect – the sad upholstery, a lock
that sticks, less green in the garden, Sister’s bad new fringe.
Though still so far away from things, she knows the old love
must be imminent; it must be home because she’s longed for it.