Air travel is like
ancient pilgrims walking on their
knees, flight delays and narrow seats
offer their own kind of penance.
You jettison excess baggage,
leaving behind the heavy makeup case,
knowing the rain will
wash you free of artifice.
Books you wanted to carry left too,
no more outside words needed,
then go old beliefs which keep
you taut and twisted inside.
Blistered feet stumble over rocky
fields covered with wildflowers and you
realize this is your life,
full of sharp stones and color.
Red-breasted robins call forth
the song already inside,
a hundred griefs break open under
dark clouds and downpour.
Rise and fall of elation and exhaustion,
the tides a calendar of unfolding,
a bright star rises and you remember
a loved one waiting miles away.
A new hunger is kindled by the sight of
cows nursing calves in a field,
spying a spotted pony, you forget
the weight and seriousness of things.
Salmon swim across the Atlantic,
up the River Corrib’s rapids to the
wide lake, and you wonder if you have
also been called here for death and birth.
This is why we journey:
to retrieve our lost intimacy with the world,
every creature a herald of poems
that sleep in streams and stones.
“Missing you” scrawled on a postcard sent home,
but you don’t follow with
“wish you were here.”
This is a voyage best made alone.