Snowflakes in Summer

The summer after leaving for Uni

They all came back, trailing clouds

Of crazy hair and bad tattoos.

The brought us new words:

“Heteronormative”, “Post-democracy”

Changing all, like snowflakes, which,

When they enter the upper atmosphere

Are indistinguishable, smooth, round.

The journey through the air shapes each

And by the time they reach the ground

They have all become unique.

Wearing their status as returned

Adventurers with ironic pride,

They billeted themselves upon us

Commandeered old bedrooms

Requisitioned supplies, trooped

In and out of each other’s’ houses.

Talked into the dawn some nights,

About ideas, imaginings, our place

In the universe, politics, relationships

Travel plans and overdrafts.

And then as suddenly, they went,

Leaving behind them not empty

Nests. Who has time for that these days?

No, the space was quickly claimed

By siblings, home offices, upcycled

On Airbnb. Parents upped sticks, downshifted,

moved on, embraced this new beginning.

For time also, is procrastination’s thief.

And in our hearts, we knew

That when next summer came

They would be more rooted in the places

They had moved to, with flats,

Partners, part-time jobs, rents to pay.

They might not come back so much

Or very much at all, and we would

Not have or at least not soon, their time

that slow falling through the blue days

When they slept carelessly til noon,

The rolling buffet at the kitchen table

Hours curled up on the sofa, phones in hand,

Chatting while pairing socks or peeling spuds.

Those old rituals: I’m walking the dog

To the garage, fancy chumming me?
We’ll buy some sweets.