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Homeward: The Source, HT23 Week 1

Four pieces of creative writing – from Thisuri Perera, Ruth Port, Charlie Bowden, and Flynn Hallman – for the theme 'Homeward'.

Long Lost Home by Thisuri Perera

"We stayed at home to write, to consolidate our outstretched selves." – Sylvia Plath

The idea of returning home has always ignited a bittersweet feeling in my heart, because it requires re-adjusting yourself back to your original form, to take off the armour you had carefully built against the Unknown and return to sweet familiarity. Relocating in the external world always inflicts upon us an internal displacement; in the same way Time denies us permanency, Space deprives us of stability.

So, as the days go by, you begin to notice your voice changing and the rhythm of your steps becoming less mechanical. You allow yourself to wallow in what once used to be the terrifying future and even begin to recognise a certain feeling of ease, all the more meaningful when it only lasts for a mere second.

We, human, never truly stop expanding; we thrive on change since stagnation is certainly not our natural condition. The way we change throughout our lives, however, is never a radical metamorphosis. We become palimpsests of all the different translations of ourselves, yet nothing is ever erased or forcefully forgotten. Nothing really goes away.

It is the concept of home that offers safety and rest for ever-fluctuating minds, but it also provides us of a place to finally recalibrate, to give a foundation to all we have acquired from the outside world.

When one never experiences this feeling of being back home, when no place on earth ever reminds you of your earliest Self, finding a moment of relief from these seemingly endless days becomes much more arduous.

I, myself, often find that my own existence is merely my own thoughts. A stream of consciousness like the tap water that violently hits my toothbrush on a cold morning. There is a whole entire world outside my bathroom, yet the frail, ignorant toothbrush is only aware of the water passing through its head with no remorse. Once I turn the tap off, it is aware of nothing. Such a comparison might appear simplistic, but to live in this world without ever feeling at home is not much different than seeing tap water aggressively approaching your face, drowning you for seconds that feel like years, leaving you with no time to pause and breathe until it is all ultimately over.

Yet of course, to define home as a location is too reductive.

We build homes everywhere we go: in every person that achieves the nearly impossible task to truly know you, in every bed you sleep in, in every letter you write to an old friend and in all the little things you do routinely every day. The way you make your cup of coffee, the new song you cannot seem to stop listening to on your way to town, your favourite restaurant and the pen you lent to the stranger sat next to you in class and never got back. The way you say your own name when asked for it and the way your mother used to sing you to sleep.

Perhaps, if we cannot find home through Space, we can find it across the passage of our Time on earth. All the things that prove you have existed, and you have lived. Perhaps, when in need of peace and safety, you can return to the memory of your childhood home and imagine what your voice might have sounded like back then. You can hold onto the knowledge that you have loved, and you have been loved, you have dreamt a thousand dreams and your eyes have seen the sky change every single day of your life.

Perhaps home is how much you change but still hold onto to the same old fears. All the wrong decisions you have made and the ways in which you dealt with the consequences. It might be found on a quiet evening with a friend, in that strange feeling you get seeing the first snow of the year. How passionately you long to return home as though it was long lost, yet it was always here. You never spend as much time with someone else as you do with yourself.

Home is wherever you are, leaving a trace of your presence.

This world is just a mosaic of everyone’s existence.

Simple Pleasures by Charlie Bowden

A half-sung prayer lingers in the house’s thatched roof, 
ransoming out the sound of rattling copper spoons 
to the chronicler’s faithful tune. 
His books are shining bony beacons 
of what we once had, the fists of the past 
bursting from the ground, eager to wrest control 
of good and bad. 
Who knows? 
We might have even floated  
if we let them take away our bricks and sand 
but instead we held tight to life’s simple sadness; 
the prayer rots in the attic, all hopeless hot air, 
but at least it insulates from the alternative. 
It’s better to flush through the affirmative 
than force the fists back down low. 
The house is sad but silent, exquisite in its setting, 
slowly being eaten by the quiet madness of the snow. 

Waterlogged by Ruth Port

Temporal Aviation,
Down I fall:

I notice that the incessant rain has made the river burst its banks.
The cows tread nervously around
Giant puddles; moon craters as they try to find
Something to eat. 

Lying in my bed to escape the torrent, my childhood books stand sentry.
I wish I could lose myself in the pages once more,
Sink down into the hopeful embrace
Of a world steeped in magic.

‘Home’ seems sodden, drenched in memories I can’t shake.
A ghost of a little girl running up the stairs, dragging muddy handprints as she careens
Round the corner. Melting into my mum’s hugs, losing myself 
In a person I am no longer. 

The blue fingers of Winter air
Wrapping around me like the false twinkle of Christmas lights. 
A breath in, shocking cold, the gargled sensation of floodwater. 
Spitting out teddy bears until I float once more,

Sailing into the clouds above,
Watching more time pass.

Seven Times Around the Sun by Flynn Hallman

I remember us running towards its falling frame
too slow for earth
who held the sun in changing skies elsewhere.

That night, when only stars remained,
I watched you trace the air to guess their names
and then you told me that their light could run
seven times around our sun
in any of the countless seconds 
of all the days
we beckoned it to stay.

You said, when one of them began to die,
it travelled on in space and time
beyond our distances of days and nights
to disappear from eyes
who could not know the countless suns they’d lost 
in a second’s light elsewhere. 

That night I reckoned so much change 
could not be true of stars,
their light seemed always to remain,

but now we lose the sun to different skies
though I still look for you.

If you’re interested in writing or illustrating for The Source, email the editors at [email protected]!

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